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Feeding food animals: How self-reliant is the Northeast?

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Posted: November 20, 2016

Although more than half of the food-producing farmland in the Northeast U.S. is devoted to producing animal feeds and forages, the region still relies on additional imports to meet the needs of its livestock operations, according to several members of the Production Team. Their findings build on earlier work to provide a more complete picture of how self-reliant the region is in meeting its population’s demand for animal-based foods like meat, dairy, and eggs.
Image: USDA

Image: USDA

An earlier paper published in 2014 revealed that the Northeast produced 36% of the total animal-based foods consumed in the region from 2001 to 2010. The new findings show the amount of feeds and forages that were required to produce these foods and the extent to which they were grown within the region.

“The region produced 94 and 67% of the amount of total digestible nutrients and crude protein, respectively, needed to raise the livestock that were slaughtered for meat or produced eggs or dairy in the region from 2001 to 2010,” said the authors in the paper published online in Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. “All told, livestock feed production in the region accounted for 39 and 24% of the energy and protein, respectively, consumed via meat, dairy and eggs in the region.”

The findings suggest that the most effective way to increase the region’s self-reliance in animal-based food production would be to reduce regional consumption of these foods.

An in-depth explanation of the approach the authors took to arrive at their findings is available in this news story.