There are many approaches to supporting agriculture and plans for agriculture are only as good as the policies enacted and investments made to fulfill their visions and achieve the stated goals.
Policies and programs at the federal, state and local levels may include efforts to help agricultural landowners in their role as stewards of land and water resources. Communities interested in planning a future for farming typically identify priority farming areas with productive agricultural land and clusters of active operations. Then they steer growth away from these places, encourage more efficient land use in areas earmarked for growth, and provide mechanisms for permanent protection. Together, these strategies help ensure that there are blocks of farmland that can support a range of farm businesses.
It is important to recognize that agriculture is an industry as well as a land use. It is critical that farms receive the marketing and economic development assistance that other local industries receive. But plans for agriculture must consider the vitality of the entire sector, not just individual operations. Farms and ranches rely upon a range of vital ancillary businesses. Sustaining agriculturally related businesses–from lenders to veterinarians and farm equipment dealers–is part of the necessary infrastructure for agriculture.