An acquaintance once told me that Europe is not self-sufficient in terms of food consumption as it does not have enough farmland and farmers to produce enough for all its people, especially in terms of things such as wheat and meat consumption, and hence must rely on the United States to provide such supply such food products in exchange for other products. His claim is that such dependency and exchange of goods is due to the fact that Europe is not and could never be self-sufficient in terms of food production.

Is this true?


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    $\begingroup$ While the notion is true that Europe is importing food at the moment, the question whether it could never be is probably off topic on this site. It would be more on-topic to ask about the Economist's normative stand on this. $\endgroup$ – FooBar Jan 17 '15 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ OK, I'm interested. What's the Economist's normative stand on this? Also, why doesn't Europe produce its own food? After all, this question is of a very economic nature and I'm trying to learn more. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – John Sonderson Jan 17 '15 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps you might think of this in terms of population dynamics. If the population of Europe is such that there are not enough resources and labor to produce sufficient food, population will decline (or resources and labor will divert to food production) until we reach asymptotic stability. This is a gross oversimplification but it is an easy way to think about whether or not Europe ever could sustain itself. $\endgroup$ – 123 Jan 17 '15 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ So basically, what you are saying is that the reason Europe is not self-sufficient in terms of food consumption is not that there are not enough land resources to devote to agriculture to feed the entire population, and not due to the fact that European countries may have entered into trade agreements with countries like the US, but rather because there are too many European people living in cities and not enough working on farmland. Is this what you are saying? Thanks. $\endgroup$ – John Sonderson Jan 18 '15 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ I doubt very much this is true for the entire of Europe - it may be true for some of its member countries, the UK for example. It's not a question of too few people working farmland - manpower hasn't played a part in this since the combine harvester was introduced. The US and Canadian prairies are currently extraordinarily productive and efficient farmlands, and its extremely hard for non-US producers to compete. If the crop in the USA failed for some reason - I rather suspect local hydroponic production could fill the gap in the US and elsewhere if necessary. $\endgroup$ – Lumi Jan 18 '15 at 20:26

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