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Checking In With American Farmland Trust

Touch the Soil News #481

The American Farmland Trust (AFT) seeks to protect farmland, promote sound farming practices and keep farmers on the land. At the leading edge of farmland conservation, the AFT posts some interesting facts about farmland in America:

  1. Every hour, over 40 acres of U.S. farm and ranch land are lost (960 acres a day). This loss permanently eliminates land necessary to sustain roughly 1,920 people at low meat diets.
  2. Due to wind and water erosion, the nation loses 1.7 billion tons of topsoil each year. That is equivalent to watching a train with 1,700,000 rail cars (21 thousand miles long) containing topsoil leaving the farms.
  3. Seventy percent of all fresh water is used in farming.
  4. Ninety one percent of fruits and 77 percent of vegetables are grown near cities and are in the path of development.

On an annual basis, the loss of farmland just in America could have fed 700,000 people at low-meat diets. Ironically, most subdivisions are named after the very thing that they destroyed. The loss of farmland since 1954 could have fed more than 600 million people.

According to the USDA, America farmed 1,206,355,000 acres in 1954. The latest statistic available is from 2015, when America farmed only 912,000,000 acres – a drop of 294,355,000 acres. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. When one factors in simultaneous population growth, a much more sobering set of numbers emerges. In 1954, America farmed 7.4 acres for every person in the U.S. In 2015, America farmed 2.8 acres for every person in the U.S.

When one considers the “per-capita” farmland loss trajectory, the only thing on the horizon that truly educates about the value of food to urbanites is urban food and urban agriculture. Hopefully, on this platform of urban agriculture, a sufficient consciousness about food and land will develop to arrest farmland loss trends.

Following is a video on the Farmland Trust message:

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