Open thread for night owls: Development has overtaken 11 million acres of the best U.S. farmland
The American Farmland Trust has just released Farms Under Threat: The State of America’s Farmland, first in a series of reports focusing on past, present and future threats to agricultural resources nationwide. Between 1992 and 2012, the report states, more than 30 million acres of farmland were lost to development. Nearly 11 million acres of that land were among the “best land for intensive food and crop production.”
The following excerpts appeared at Rural America In These Times under the headline In Less Than One Generation, We’ve Lost More Than 10 Million Acres of the Best U.S. Farmland:
The United States is blessed with a remarkably productive agricultural landscape. Cropland, pastureland, rangeland, and woodland support a regionally diverse food and farming system capable of ensuring domestic food security. Agricultural land contributes to state and local economies, supplies lucrative export markets, and bolsters the nation’s balance of trade. These exceptional natural resources sustain valuable wildlife habitat, provide flood control and fire suppression, scenic views, and resources for hunting and fishing. This land also acts as an enormous carbon sink, drawing down carbon from the atmosphere, which helps combat climate change. By 2050, the demands on agriculture to provide sufficient food, fiber, and energy are expected to be 50 to 70 percent higher than they are now. Given a limited land area in the United States and the need to feed and house an increasing number of people, it is more important than ever to protect the agricultural land and natural resources needed for long-term sustainability.
This call for action is documented and reinforced by the findings of Farms Under Threat: The State of America’s Farmland by American Farmland Trust. The report’s research shows that between 1992 and 2012, almost 31 million acres of agricultural land were irreversibly lost to development. That is nearly double the amount of conversion previously documented and is equivalent to losing most of Iowa or New York. As alarming, this loss included almost 11 million acres of the best land for intensive food and crop production. This is land where the soils, micro-climates, growing seasons and water availability combine to allow intensive production with the fewest environmental impacts. These precious and irreplaceable resources comprise less than 17 percent of the total land area in the continental United States. Their conversion was equivalent to losing most of California’s Central Valley, an agricultural powerhouse.
Over 20 years ago, AFT released the groundbreaking report, Farming on the Edge. This compelling study and extensive mapping gained global media attention by showing how sprawling development consumed America’s highest quality farmland in critical regions across the country. Now, new threats to the nation’s agricultural lands create a pressing need to update the old analyses and assess threats to America’s agricultural land in the 21st century. Improvements in the availability of national data and models now enable AFT to more accurately track the scale and spatial location of the threat of development to the nation’s agricultural land. They also make it possible to assign values to measure the land’s productivity, versatility, and resilience. […]
“No tribe has the right to sell, even to each other, much less to strangers…. Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Didn’t the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children? The way, the only way to stop this evil is for the red man to unite in claiming a common and equal right in the land, as it was first, and should be now, for it was never divided.” We gave them forest-clad mountains and valleys full of game, and in return what did they give our warriors and our women? Rum, trinkets, and a grave.”
On this date at Daily Kos in 2008—Yes, Let’s All Talk More About Iraq:
Despite his constant assertions of his military expertise, when speaking this week McCain once again proved ignorant of the most basic facts of the war he so avidly supports. He said that we have “drawn down to pre-surge levels”: we most pointedly have not, causing the McCain campaign to angrily talk about “nitpicking” the difference between “verb tenses”—like, say, past, present, future, and imaginary pluperfect. Because McCain wasn’t badly misinformed, they assert, he was just talking about the future as if it were the present, or something.
He also claimed places like Mosul are “quiet”—wrong. The latest suicide bombing was a mere day beforehand.
So when McCain said, in the same breath as those two fabrications that the Iraq War is “succeeding,” it only called more attention to the bizarre and misinformed assertions he was using to justify that claim.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Roseanne: out. Greitens: out. Kardashian and North Korean cheeseburgers: in! Trump heads back to Rally Fantasy Camp. Ivanka’s weirdest Chinese trademark. Michael Cohen, terrible lawyer. Breitbart bought a “Sanders activist” to keep black voters home.