LifeFood and Drink


Study shows farms on decline, posing risks to future food supply

New research suggests the number of farms around the world could fall from about 616 million in 2020 to just 272 million by the end of the century.
Farmer working in a field.
Posted at 3:54 PM, May 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-24 13:17:17-04

The world's farms are disappearing.

A new study out of the University of Colorado, Boulder found that the number of farms globally will shrink in half by the end of the century.

"The most striking finding that comes out of this work is that globally…we'll see a tipping point from farm creation to farm consolidation," said Zia Mehrabi, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and author of the study.

His research found the number of farms will decline from 616 million in 2020 to 272 million in 2100.

"As the economy grows, we see farms getting larger and fewer," he said.

Dr. Cindy Ayers Elliot

A former Wall Street banker, now a Mississippi farmer

Cindy Ayers Elliott, a former Wall Street Investment banker, started a 68-acre farm within the city limits of Jackson, Mississippi.


Why is this happening? One reason, the study mentions, is because there are not enough people to do farm work as people move from rural areas to cities.

The research also mentions the average existing farm will double in size by the end of the century.

"This future transition from many small farms into fewer larger farms is that we're going to lose biodiversity," he said.

So what does this mean for us?

"It's inherently more risky to a number of types of shocks," Mehrabi said.

For example, pest outbreaks could become more common with decreasing diversity in farms and crop types.

In turn, these changes will have a broad impact on our food supply.

"Really what I'm calling for is foresight. Foresight into the changes that are happening and policies that are put in place to ensure we have a safer planet that feeds us all into the future," he said.