Between 1992 and 2012, over 30 million acres of productive agricultural land in the US was paved over by suburban sprawl and other so-called ‘development’. Thirty million acres, including 11 million of prime farmland! That extraordinary figure comes from a study done by the American Farmland Trust and is the starting point for this outstanding article by Catherine Tumber, “Land Without Bread: The Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside”
As one who has been working on developing a Green New Deal in Virginia, I’m grateful for this critique and critical reminder. I’ll only add that we’ll continue to lose productive farm, ranch and forest land at an alarming rate, so long as:
· Farmers face extremely low prices, making farming in many places unprofitable (and selling farm land a no-brainer)
· Corporate consolidation continues in meat production and processing, seeds and fertilizers, dairy and other farm sectors, raising farmers’ input costs while cutting the prices they receive for their products
· We continue to avoid the historic and still-prevalent racism in agricultural lending and services which has contributed to the loss of between 80% and 90% of Black-owned farmland over the past century
· Elected leaders and economic developers continue to look at farmland, pastures and woodlands as “undeveloped”, awaiting a strip mall, shopping complex or industrial building
· Those of us active in the local foods movement, whether as producers or consumers, don’t also get involved in politics, policy and the public debate.