Consider the following: In 1950 the U.S. population was approximately 160 million people and 36 percent of the population lived on a farm. Today the U.S. population is approximately 317 million people and less than 2 percent of the population live on a farm with 86 percent living in urban or suburban areas and unlikely to return to the country and a farm. In 1950 the average U.S. farmer supplied food to feed 26 people. Today the average U.S. farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people. Today farmers produce 262 percent more food with 2 percent fewer inputs compared with 1950. It is projected the world’s population will increase to 9-10 billion people by the year 2050 and global food production will need to increase 70-80 percent to feed that population. That means more food will have to be produced in the next 50 years than the past 10,000 years combined.

There are limitations to emissions reductions in agriculture particularly because of its role in providing food for a global population that only continues growing. Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect improvements in efficiency rather than absolute reductions in greenhouse emissions. As pork producers embrace their role in not only feeding the world but safeguarding the earth, they can use tools to understand the progress already made and identify potential areas for further progress.

As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change pointed out in a technical report in 2008*:

“There are limitations to emissions reductions in the agriculture sector particularly because of the role of the sector in providing food for a global population that is expected to continue to grow in the coming decades. Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect emissions reductions in terms of improvements in efficiency rather than absolute reductions in GHG emissions.

 

*Technical Report, 21 November 2008 FCCC/TP/2008/8