The US has lost prime farmland equal to the state of Indiana in the last 25 years data is available. (1982-2007), according to a new analysis by the American Farmland Trust.
The loss has been so alarming that some urban areas like Portland Oregon, have established urban boundaries to restrict urban sprawl and protect farmland and other open space.
Here, closer to home, we are also loosing valuable farmland that could be used to grow fresh or organic vegetables for the local markets. For Alabama during the same period, we lost 282,700 acres of prime farm land to development, and a total of 474,200 acres total. You can look at the statistics on a state by state basis here.
According to the article, the rate of loss has slowed over the last decade nationwide. I am sure the current economic recession has further slowed this loss. However, growth will resume eventually. Will we have the policies in place to direct that growth in a “smart’ manner’?
Setting aside land in permanent agricultural conservation easements is one way. Perhaps we need the agricultural equivalent of “Forever Wild” here in Alabama to save prime farm land. We could call it “Forever Farming” perhaps.