The End of Cheap Food?

Our Washington Independent colleague Mary Kane posts a fascinating story on the complex causes, bad timing and market forces coming to bear on worldwide food prices. And a little examined issue could have a big impact right here in Colorado.

…Another “hidden issue” is the scarcity of land still available for farming, he said. In the past, the United States had plenty of farmland to provide more crops as food demands grew. But land is finite, and after all these years, we’re beginning to run short, [Purdue University professor of agricultural economics] Doering said. “For the first time in our history, we’re pushing up against the edge in terms of quality land,” Doering said. “We’re in a somewhat fixed box.”

Cheap land on the fringes of the Eastern Plains entices Front Range sprawl to gobble up millions of acres of farm- and ranchland. Water diversion from farms to suburbia creates yet another set of hurdles in domestic food production whether due to age-old legal entanglements over ditch rights and wells or when selling water became more lucrative than producing crops.

In the end, Colorado and its $16 billion ag ecomomy have a role to play — all the way to the far corners of the globe.

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