Smarter land use planning is urgently needed to protect farmland

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Smart growth and investment in downtowns and main streets across the Midwest must happen now to secure the land that grows our food, according to the American Farmland Trust’s new report Farms Under Threat 2040: Choosing an Abundant Future and the web mapping tool that comes with it. AFT’s research into Farms at Risk has shown that by 2040, up to 3,165,000 acres – nearly 5,000 square miles of farmland could be lost due to urban and low-density conversion in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin). Six Midwestern states (IL, IA, OH, IN, WI, and MN) are on the top 10 list when assessing acres of farmland converted to urban development by 2040. This loss will have a disproportionate impact on small farms that often serve local markets with fresh produce. fruits and vegetables, eggs, dairy products and meat. The Midwest is also seeing a market push to meet renewable energy targets. These climatic factors will lead to increased flooding, compromised drinking water, reduced air quality and increased pressures on agricultural land.

• If recent trends continue, 363,375 acres of agricultural land in Illinois will be paved, fragmented, or converted to uses that jeopardize agriculture by 2040. This represents an area nearly 2.5 times more larger than the city of Chicago and is equivalent to the loss of more than 1,500 farms and 3,400 agricultural jobs.

• Protecting Illinois farmland from poorly planned development and residential sprawl is of both local and national importance given that 81% of farmland conversion will occur on some of the most most productive and versatile in the country.

Register for a webinar on August 8, 2022, Illinois, https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/2104362325096557582

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