Farmland loss should be alarming

The rate of farmland loss is being highlighted as part of the Great Lakes Crop Summit. 

Becky Huttenga, economic development coordinator for Ottawa County, works to preserve and protect farmland in West Michigan. She tells Brownfield attrition from aging farmers lends itself to fewer farms and eventually less farmland.

“I think what a lot of folks don’t realize about the loss of farmland is how fast its been occurring,” she says.  “A rate of four acres per hour statewide between the 2012 and 2017 Ag Census.”

Nationwide, she says American Farmland Trust research is finding a large reason behind the loss is also tied to zoning.

“Forty percent of the farmland lost nationwide was due to changing zoning from ag to R1 low density rural residential.”

Huttenga says agricultural easements, planning and zoning with SMART growth principles, succession planning, and becoming more economically viable can help reduce losses.

Michigan’s MiFarmLink project is another way to help connect farmland to new and beginning farmers.

Brownfield interviews Becky Huttenga and Sam Stokes during the Great Lakes Crop Summit.

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