The sustainability of American agriculture begins with the land. Farmland closest to our cities and towns is among the nation’s most productive and important for a variety of economic, environmental and aesthetic reasons. The sustainability of the nation’s agriculture is being progressively compromised as this land is lost to sprawling development. The rate of farmland loss is accelerating as public policies exaggerate the competitive edge that development has over agriculture. Federal farm policy, in particular, does little to help farmers in urban-influenced areas. States and local communities are leaders in adopting innovative approaches to farmland protection as an integral smart growth strategy. But their efforts suffer from too little investment and a lack of the political will to regulate sprawl. Successful farmland protection programs exist, however, that combine substantial financial incentives to landowners with effective land use regulation. Funders can help sustain agriculture in urban- influenced areas by encouraging more of these “hybrid” programs. Changes in national agricultural policy are also needed that both recognize the important contribution of urban-influenced farms to American agriculture and retain these lands in agriculture as a critical bulwark against the spread of urban sprawl.
Agricultural Sustainability and Smart Growth: Saving Urban-Influenced Farmland
Edward Thompson, Jr.
Miami, FL: Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities
April 01, 2001
Reports and Guides
Land Use Planning, Planning for Agriculture and Food Systems, Smart Growth / Growth Management