In the last 15 years over 11 million acres of this nation’s irreplaceable agricultural land has been paved-over, fragmented, or otherwise converted to new uses that jeopardize farming. Rising development pressures and land values limit the ability of farmers, especially beginning farmers, to access land. Left unabated, these trends threaten food security, local economies, ecological integrity, climate resiliency, and the very fabric of our communities.
New England -- Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont -- has a strong agrarian tradition but is experiencing severe development pressure. The New England Food Vision (2014) presented a bold proposal to produce 50% of New England’s food by 2060 (up from 12%), yet we continue to lose farmland at a rapid pace, while farmers face mounting economic pressures and the growing impacts of the changing climate – potentially challenging our ability to meet The Vision’s goals. Despite the reduction in housing starts brought about by the Great Recession in 2008, our new data shows a renewed uptick in development that has resulted in 19 acres per day, or 7,000 acres per year of New England agricultural land being lost or threatened between 2001 and 2016.
While much good work has been done across New England, we can and must do more. “Farms Under Threat: A New England Perspective” presents new information on the state of New England’s farmland and a framework for action that provides potential pathways forward.