I have lived most of my life on the edge of the city of San Diego and have become very familiar with city and suburban life. Even though I have lived in the suburbs I have not been totally isolated from the thought of rural America. I have a horse and have had chickens, goats, and vegetable gardens at my house most of my life, and have always liked the thought of rural lifestyle even though I live around millions of people. My high school even had the largest agricultural program in the county and it kept growing even though many other schools were loosing their programs. Agriculture has always seemed to be to there and has seemed to be a major part of the American lifestyle, because that is what most of the country was founded on, but what I didn’t really realize is that how much it is disappearing and how America may no longer be the premiere farming country it used to be.
America is loosing its precious farmland everyday to modern development, which can be very bad for not just Americans but also the world. According to American Farmland Trust the United States is loosing an acre of farmland or ranches every minute to urban development, and that in a five year period between 2002-2007 4,080,300 acres of agricultural land were turned into developments which is roughly the size of the state of Massachusetts. In the past twenty-five years the states that have lost the most agricultural land were Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, California, and Georgia with a combined total of 4,244,000 acres. It’s shocking how much rural land has been developed and how much food production was probably lost from it. Urban sprawl is starting to become out of hand in this country and farmers are no longer able to afford their land, which is so precious to developers. A lot of modern farmers that have had their land for many generations are starting to wonder if they should fight off development and stay on their land or take the money and move to a city where there is “a better lifestyle”.
Even though what is happening to America’s rural land may seem bleak there has also been people that are there to help protect farmlands. For example California Rangeland Trust is a nonprofit organization founded by ranchers in 1998, to conserve the open space, natural habitat, and stewardship provided by California’s ranches. In their sixteen year history California Rangeland Trust has permanently saved over 275,000 acres of ranch land from being developed. Also schools like University of California Davis have been doing projects to help promote and protect California’s nature preserves. Furthermore smaller groups like Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve helped to save the Fiscalini Ranch, which is on the coast of Central California, from being turned into a housing complex instead into a open nature preserve owned by the state of California so that future generations can enjoy pristine open coastline. The Williamson Act in California is what helped turn the Fiscalini Ranch into an open-air preserve. The goal of the Williamson Act enables local governments to enter into contracts with private landowners for the purpose of restricting specific parcels of land to agricultural or related open space use. In return, landowners receive property tax assessments that are much lower than normal because they are based upon farming and open space uses as opposed to full market value.As America moves into a postindustrial society it is also moving away from its farming heritage. Cities and suburban neighborhoods are growing way past their boundary lines and new types of developments and designs need to be reconsidered before America is no longer able to grow its own crops. One way I propose reconsidering development is to make cities a lot denser. Los Angeles already has enough land within its boundaries instead of sprawling outward the city needs to grown upward, and that goes for every city in America. I really do enjoy city life, but that doesn’t mean that the whole country needs to be turned into a giant metropolis. It is important that America keeps its farmland both environmentally and economically.