Sunday, April 6, 2008

When Sprawl Encroaches on Farmland...

...thanks to one of our readers who forwarded this interesting article discussing the many complex factors involved in sprawl and the effects on agricultural land:
It's quite tempting to sell off a farm in parcels for $20,000 an acre, sometimes much more if an entire farm is being developed. For most landowners, property rights are a priority; farmland preservation less so. As for someone who wants to cash out, it's rare to find anyone willing to leave money on the table.

But the evidence that urban sprawl is a problem continues to mount. Among the many considerations:

* More than 6 million acres—an area the size of Maryland—were taken out of agriculture and developed between 1992 and 1997, according to American Farmland Trust, an organization whose goal is to protect farmland.
* Within the next 32 years, this country will add 100 million people to its population, bringing the total to 400 million. How we use land in that growth will only become more of an issue.
* The argument that people have to live somewhere is easily countered by proof we are planning our spaces poorly. From 1982 to 1997, the U.S. population grew by 17%, but land development grew by 47%, according to American Farmland Trust. Since 1994, 55% of developed land went into 10-plus-acre lots.
* When the editor of this magazine asked readers about their biggest problems, the concern that outweighed all others was newcomers moving to the country.