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Food production in the northeastern US may need to change if climate does
Date:2/28/2014

en you look at the farmland acreage," Griffin said. "A small number of crops occupy a large portion of the cropland acreage and almost 40% of that is corn, most of it used for animal feed. A small proportion of that acreage produces foods that people eat, such apples and potatoes, although much of it contributes indirectly by supporting livestock production systems."

Griffin and colleagues found regional self-reliance to be highest for animal-based products, particularly milk and eggs. The region produces about as much fluid milk as it consumes and about 70% of the amount of eggs consumed. For seafood, the region produces 45% of the amount of shellfish it consumes and 23% of fish. Just under 30% of the amount of chicken consumed in the region is also produced there.

For vegetables, the region produces 26% of the amount of it consumes and for fruit, 18%. The vegetable crops grown in the largest amount are starchy products such as potatoes and corn. Within the fruit category, the region is most self-reliant for berries, primarily blueberries and cranberries.

Regional self-reliance in the Northeast will likely be impacted by two other factors: population growth and dietary choice. The U.S. Department of Commerce predicts that there will be an additional two million people living in the Northeast by 2030 (an increase of about 3%). "Regional self-reliance would be impacted if there were to be a shift toward eating more in line with the federal dietary guidelines, which emphasize fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products," Griffin noted.

The authors note that agricultural growth in the region will be challenging because of land use patterns. More than half of the region's total farmland is located in Pennsylvania and New York, with Maryland accounting for an approximate additional 20%. Another barrier is the limited supply chain infrastructure, which hampers packaging and distribution.

"Our future research will look at
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Contact: Andrea Grossman
617-636-3728
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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