11 million acres of farmland were removed from production between 2001-2016

The American Farmland Trust is highlighting the loss of farmland to urban sprawl.

Between 2001 and 2016, urban sprawl consumed about 2,000 acres of U.S. farmland per day. Collectively, that is 11 million acres now out of production.

There is a growing desire to slow the loss of farm ground. Sean Ellis with the Idaho Farm Bureau says that one idea gaining traction is agricultural conservation easements.

“What you do is you offer the farmer a certain amount of money to put his farmland in an agricultural conservation easement, and he gets an incentive to do that, and the land remains farmland forever,” Ellis explains. “The problem is, that obviously has to involve a lot of money, and the farmer has to be offered something at least in the neighborhood of what a developer is going to offer them. So, where does that money come from?”

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has easement programs to help preserve farm ground and wetlands. The programs can contribute as much as 50-75 percent of the farm market value of the easement, considering the unique factors of qualified lands.


Ag Economic Insights discusses the trends to look for in the 2021 farmland market