The decades-old champion of farmland preservation in our country, American Farmland Trust, recently published an article about land demand that, while pertinent to many, really hits home to our home, here in Green Lake, Wisconsin.
Because of our treasured waters, Green Lake has a robust real estate trade, pushing per-acre-prices around the lake up to $10k [for comparison, the average cost per acre in WI is $4,850 and the national average is $3,160/acre for 2020]. This puts area farmland out of reach for most farmers, especially those just starting out.
Beyond that, the author made many solid points, several of which we can see happening first-hand:
- The pandemic is causing a urban-to-rural migration, increasing competition for already scarce farmland
- During the pandemic we have become increasingly reliant on local food
- Lack of land use planning means haphazard development of rural land
- More developed land means less local food, less wildlife habitat, less protection from natural disasters, less resiliency in tough times.
- Even non-farmer landowners can be land stewards, preserving farmland and natural resources
- Rural land buyers can maintain integrity of their land and leave it better than they found it
- Development can be done responsibly, with input from local conservation organizations
These issues don’t solely impact folks trying to buy a farm. As the author points out:
It’s not just about housing on farmland, it’s about the nation’s food security, rural economies, our ability to be resilient in the face of crises, pandemics, floods and fires, and climate-related challenges to food and fiber production.
As American Farmland Trust likes to say: No farms, no food.
So, if you are a current, or soon-to-be, rural landowner, look into ways you can care for and preserve the land we all depend on. Let’s all aim for responsible choices and educated purchases. And feel free to reach out to Foxhead Ag, or a local land trust or agricultural organization near you, with any questions. We’re more than happy to help.
Photo credit: Wideshpan6, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons