Taunya Fagan Bozeman Real Estate Blog: SW Montana Information & Listings: Growth in the US West is Quickly Diminishing Fertile Farm Land...What are the Answers?

Growth in the US West is Quickly Diminishing Fertile Farm Land...What are the Answers?

It is very obvious that the pace of growth in the valleys of the western United States has led to redevelopment of just above all that once was fertile farmland. What has happened? Those involved in rural land use are unable to compete in the economic ring with the technologically savy urban developers. This is a high stakes competition between agriculture, which is viewed as a temporary use for land that will be discovered by developers, determined to put the once-rural spaces to their highest and best use.

Below is an article from New West, written by Susan Duncan, discussing the issues between rural agriculture and urban development. The questions always rising to the surface are, "Who should decide the best use for our lands, and what are those 'best' uses?" What do you think?

"...In the beginning, the landscape was "wild". European settlers perceived that Native American culture was not using this land to its greatest potential. The pioneers "tamed" it as farmland. Now, a new wave of settlers - called developers and amenity buyers - believe that farmers are not using land efficiently. They envision farmland as residential, commercial, and high-end recreational property.  And so it goes. Beware! When "new" people see property as "under-performing real estate", your land is subject to a hostile takeover (as with the Native Americans) or a buyout. (Name your price.) That's how cutover Plum Creek timberlands became Yellowstone Club and farmland became Costco and Wal-mart.

Surrounded by open space, rural residents have trouble imagining a need to save "open space." Urban residents have trouble imagining that "all that farmland out there" could one day be under pavement. As one lady told me, "I thought farms would always be there! It never occurred to me that they could be all gone!"

Until agriculture is respected as a legitimate, designated land use, how can it survive? Farmland preserves tax-paying open space, wildlife habitat, local food production, groundwater recharge areas, carbon sequestration and reminders of what it means to live in the West. Is any of that worth keeping?"   Finish the article here.


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Comment balloon 0 commentsTaunya Fagan • February 14 2008 12:40PM


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