Agricultural phosphorus (P) use is intricately linked to food security and water quality. Globalization of agricultural systems and changing diets clearly alter these relationships, yet their specific influence on non-renewable P reserves is less certain. We assessed P fertilizer used for production of food crops, livestock and biofuels in the US agricultural system, explicitly comparing the domestic P use required for US food consumption to the P use embodied in the production of US food imports and exports. By far the largest demand for P fertilizer throughout the US agricultural system was for feed and livestock production (56% of total P fertilizer use, including that for traded commodities). As little as 8% of the total mineral P inputs to US domestic agriculture in 2007 (1905 Gg P) was consumed in US diets in the same year, while larger fractions may have been retained in agricultural soils (28%), associated with different post-harvest losses (40%) or with biofuel refining (10%). One quarter of all P fertilizer used in the US was linked to export production, primarily crops, driving a large net P flux out of the country (338 Gg P). However, US meat consumption relied considerably on P fertilizer use in other countries to produce red meat imports. Changes in domestic farm management and consumer waste could together reduce the P fertilizer required for US food consumption by half, which is comparable to the P fertilizer reduction attainable by cutting domestic meat consumption (44%). US export-oriented agriculture, domestic post-harvest P losses and global demand for meat may ultimately have an important influence on the lifespan of US phosphate rock reserves.