Why save farmland?
We need fertile farmland to grow the healthy food we all need to survive. Did you know:
- Farms and ranches support local economies and create jobs.
- Farm and ranch lands typically generate more revenue for local governments than they demand in services.
- Farmers manage nearly half of the land in the lower 48 states. Well-managed agricultural land provides food and cover for wildlife, helps control flooding, and absorbs and filters storm water. Well-managed farmland also traps carbon in the soil, benefitting the environment.
How much agricultural land in the U.S. has been lost to development?
According to our recent report, Farms Under Threat: The State of America's Farmland, the U.S. lost nearly 31 million acres of land between 1992 and 2012. That's 175 acres an hour, or 3 acres every single minute. 11 million of those acres were among the best farmland in the nation—classified as the most productive, most versatile and most resilient land. Development disproportionately occurred on agricultural lands, with 62 percent of all development occurring on farmland. Expanding urban areas accounted for 59 percent of the loss. Low-density residential development, or the building of houses on one- to 20-acre parcels, accounted for 41 percent. For more information, visit www.farmland.org/FarmsUnderThreat.
How much land in the U.S. is used for agriculture?
Our nation's 2,109,303 farms sit on 914,527,657 acres, accounting for 40.5 percent of our total land area. Farms can include cropland, permanent pasture and range land, woodland, plus land in farmsteads and buildings. For more information on the 2012 Census of Agriculture, click here.
What is prime farmland?
Prime farmland soils have the best physical and chemical properties for most kinds of agriculture, requiring less water, fertilizers and pesticides. They are the easiest soils to keep healthy, farm profitably, and grow the widest variety of crops with the least environmental impact. Prime farmland soils are the most resilient to extreme weather, such as drought and heavy rainfall. They are also at the most risk of being developed.
How can I protect my land for farming?
An agricultural conservation easement (ACE) is one of the most effective ways to protect land for farming.