Plans for agriculture are only as good as the policies enacted and investments made to fulfill their visions and achieve the stated goals. There are many approaches to supporting agriculture.
Policies and programs at the federal, state and local levels may include conservation policies and programs 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 to provide mechanisms for permanent protection. Together, these strategies help ensure that there are blocks of farmland that can support a range of farm businesses.
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.