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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #344335

Research Project: Development and Application of Mechanistic Process-Driven Crop Models for Assessing Effects and Adapting Agriculture to Climate Changes

Location: Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory

Title: Baselines, trajectories, and scenarios: Exploring agricultural production in the Northeast U.S.

item GRIFFIN, TIMOTHY - Tufts University
item PETERS, CHRISTIAN - Tufts University
item Fleisher, David
item CONARD, MICHAEL - Columbia University
item CONRAD, ZACH - Tufts University
item TICHENOR, NICOLE - University Of New Hampshire
item MCCARTHY, ASHLEY - Tufts University
item PILTCH, EMILY - Tufts University
item RESOP, JONATHAN - University Of Maryland
item SABERI, HOUMAN - Columbia University

Submitted to: Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/6/2018
Publication Date: 6/28/2018
Citation: Griffin, T., Peters, C., Fleisher, D.H., Conard, M., Conrad, Z., Tichenor, N., Mccarthy, A., Piltch, E., Resop, J., Saberi, H. 2018. Baselines, trajectories, and scenarios: Exploring agricultural production in the Northeast U.S. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.

Interpretive Summary: The Northeast region of the United States contains about one-quarter of the country’s population but only three percent of national cropland. Much of the food consumed in this region comes from other states or countries. Increasing food production in this multi-state area will improve rural economies and should provide better access to healthy and affordable fruits and vegetables to people who are currently thought to be food insecure. Research was conducted to estimate (a) the amount of crop products currently consumed and grown in the region, (b) land-availability and use for agricultural production between city and rural locations, (c) the possibility of increasing farmland, and (d) the sensitivity of changes in climate and diets on food availability. The results imply that regional food production can be increased through increasing land availability for farming, shifting human diets toward eating more fruits and vegetables, and selecting different crops that may be better suited for changing climates. This type of analyses are needed for policy planning regarding land-use and food security and will benefit scientists and practitioners focused on crop production.

Technical Abstract: Agricultural production provides the base for the food system across multiple spatial scales, including the regional, multi-state level. Increasing regional production depends on accurately estimating current food production quantities and understanding the mechanisms and resource requirements of production shifts. The Production Team of the EFSNE Project undertook seven studies that focused on current and potential production in the Northeast region of the U.S., which includes nearly one-quarter of the population but only about 3% of national cropland. Here we summarize the results from these studies which: 1) estimate the regional self-reliance of primary crop and livestock products and livestock feeds; 2) develop and implement a method to delineate urban, peri-urban, and rural zones around cities and analyze the distribution of food chain businesses across these zones; 3) assess crop yield trajectories to refine potential increases in production associated with agricultural expansion into different land categories; 4) model climate change and dietary impacts on yields and land use. The regional self-reliance of food crops varies widely, and the predominant agricultural land use is for the production of animal feeds. The peri-urban zones around cities contain significant agricultural production with supply chain businesses also concentrated in these zones. The potential to expand regional output via yield increases varies by crop and by land category and is strongly influenced by climate change. These quantitative assessments identify the limiting factors and potential for increasing regional food production associated with food security issues.