American Farmland Trust recently released a multi-year study that indicates that if changes are not made, up to 25 million acres of farm land will be lost across the U.S. by 2040.  Addie Candib with AFT said their study looked at three different levels of urban sprawl and the impact it would have on the farm community:

  • Business as usual will result in the loss of 18 million acres 
  • “Runaway” sprawl will result in 25 million acres lost 
  • Better Built Cities, an effort to limit urban sprawl, will result in roughly 11 million acres being lost 


Candib noted the response from farmers, producers and the boots on the ground is in line with their results nationwide.


“One of the pieces that I’m most excited about with this research is, it really makes this not just an issue for rural and agricultural communities.  One of the biggest takeaways from this research is that this is an issue that matters to all of us; this is an urban issue and we need farmers coming to the table to help us advocate for greater urban density.”


Candib noted it is not realistic to expect zero acres of farmland lost, but that does not mean the farming community should not speak up before it's too late.  She added the expectation is that over 500,000 acres will be lost in the Pacific Northwest, with most of that coming around urban areas that are reporting rapid growth, such as the Puget Sound area, as well as the Boise, Portland and Spokane metro areas.


“This loss is going to disproportionately impact our most productive, versatile land.  And the other thing that will happen is that this loss also threatens the future for those small and peri-urban farms in particular.  And one of the things that we see is that for new and beginning who are just starting out, they’re often starting out on those smaller acreage parcels that are closer to cities.” 


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