Earlier this week, farmers and agricultural representatives from 46 states met in Utah to discuss the future of American farming and agricultural sustainability. In addition to issues of sustainability, the farmers discussed other problems facing farmers and ranchers today.
One of the major issues that came up was urban sprawl. Development has long been a major issue to farmers in the United States. Over the last several decades, the percentage of the American populace living in rural areas has diminished as more and more Americans move into cities and urban centers. This urban growth and the growth of the suburbs has led to the poaching of agricultural lands as more and more farms are bought out and developed. Many states have responded by offering farmers tax breaks and subsidies if they pledge to maintain their land as agricultural space for a series of several years.
In addition to suburban development, many farmers are facing pressure from expanding infrastructure development. In Utah, for example, the development of the Wade Davis Corridor near Salt Lake City has threatened to break up valuable agricultural plots and could bankrupt several Utah farmers. Utah farmers have been fighting with the Department of Transportation for months in an effort to divert the corridor.
The decline of small farming in America has also presented many farmers and ranchers with stark choices about their future. Many farmers discussed agricultural tourism as a potential avenue for profitability. Taking advantage of the disconnect between urban and rural life, many farmers are offering farm tours, orchard picking trips, corn mazes, and other agricultural activities to appeal to vacationing suburbanites.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer