New study shows


Cornell University professor David Pimentel, a renowned expert on the energy, land, and water requirements of U.S. agriculture, has presented the findings of his study, U.S. Food Production Threatened by Rapid Population Growth.

The study shows that the United States currently exports 20% of the food it produces, generating $40 billion in trade income. "This exportable U.S. food surplus, and the $40 billion annual income generated, will likely be reduced to nearly $0 by 2025, if present U.S. population growth and farmland loss trends continue," Dr. Pimentel said.

Former U.S. senator and Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson commented "It is clear from Dr. Pimentel's study that a crisis looms both for sustaining adequate levels of food production for domestic consumption and maintaining the United States' $40 billion export income from it, unless we stop U.S. population growth soon."

Dr. Pimentel's study contains the following findings:


1. At its current growth rate of 2% (approximately 650,000 net annual increase), California's population will double to 65 million by 2032, a number exceeding the current populations of the next four most populous states combined (Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Illinois).

2. About 122,000 or 3% of California's 4.4 million acres of land in cultivation are lost annually to erosion, salinization, and urban and industrial spread; about 50% of California's cropland will be lost within 20 years if population growth and environmental degradation continue.

3. California's yearly $13 billion worth of food production (more than any other state), accounts for about 10% of total state income. The leading agricultural counties are Fresno, Tulare, and Monterey, with annual sales of $2.1, $1.4, and $1.2 billion per year, respectively.

4. California agriculture consumes about 80% of the state's pumped water; nearly all cropland, and much forage and pasture land, is irrigated.

Bottom Line: At the present rate of populaiton growth, prices of California's foods will sharply increase in the near future; natural ecosystems will be robbed of greater amounts of land to expand agriculture just to keep pace with growth; cropland will continue to be degraded both by erosion and salt deposits from irrigation; and the intesive use of fertilizers and pesticides will persist in contaminating the state's water resources. As over %40 of all immigrants to the United States eventually settle permanently in California, no solution to California's ecological and agricultural crisis will ever prove lasting without significant reductions in legal and illegal immigration.


1) 470 million acres of arable U.S. land are now in cultivation. Over 1 million acres of U.S. land are lost annually to erosion, salinization, and waterlogging related to unsustainable agricultural practices. Each additional person added to the United States' population uses up about one acre.

2) The current U.S. population growth rate is 1.1%, or 3 million net per year, 60% of which is caused by foreign immigration. This number will rise to nearly 90% in the coming decades, if current immigration law and enforcement policy are not changed. At this rate, the U.S. population will double to 540 million by 2050.

3) Doubling the population by 2055 will reduce the 1.7 acres per person of cropland to 0.8 acres, diminsihing food varity and raising domestic food prices 300-500%.

4) The average crop needs about 800,000 gallons of water per acre during a single growing season. Agriculture consumes 85% of U.S. water; groundwater provides 31% of agricultural water, and is being depleted 25% faster than its replenishment rate, and will be non-productive by 2040.

Dr. Pimentel said, "If we do not stop U.S. population growth and farmland loss soon, most Americans will be unable to enjot a typical Thanksgiving feast in 2050." To avoid this harsh future of declining agricultural production and variety, rapidly increasing food prices, and severe water and energy shortages, we must stop immigration-driven domestic population growth, and conserve land, water, and energy resources.

Copies of "U.S. Food Production Threatened by Rapid Population Growth" are available for $12 from CCN. Just call 800-466-4866, or email


Home | About CCN | Support CCN | Publications | Action Alert | Links