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Dwindling farm and ranch land

American Farmland Trust’s Farms Under Threat research has found that land used to produce food in the U.S. is increasingly being used to grow cities and residential areas.

According to AFT, from 2001 to 2016, “the nation lost or compromised 2,000 acres of farmland and ranchland every day. Farms Under Threat 2040 shows we are on track to convert over 18 million acres of farmland and ranchland from 2016-40 — an area the size of South Carolina.”

These sprawling cities and residential areas not only take land away from food production but also require more water, which could lead to less water availability for farmers and ranchers.



If I still lived in North Dakota, I would probably see this study and not get all excited about it. But now that I live in Colorado it’s of utmost concern.

Seems every day another big housing development is being built here as the population grows and the demand for more affordable housing increases.



AFT suggests that food producers’ partner with policy makers and land-use planners to develop Better Built Cities to save our farm and ranch lands from further development. And they also urge farm and ranch owners to make use of permanent ag conservation easements.

I don’t know if land developers would be interested in meeting with farm and ranch owners, but something needs to be done, and quickly.

The water situation is especially concerning as the Colorado River is shrinking, and water levels in Lake Mead (28 percent of capacity) and Lake Powell (27 percent of capacity) are dropping.

Bureau of Reclamation commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton recently told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that if the seven states that depend on the Colorado River for water can’t cut their water use, the federal government will do it for them. She gave the states a 60-day (mid-August) deadline to come up with water conservation plans.

This is sure to pit farmers and ranchers up against metropolitan areas of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California and Arizona.

Hopefully these states will come up with a plan that treats farmers and ranchers fairly, but everyone should be prepared to take a seat at the table to protect their water rights.

A water shortage could negatively impact the dwindling farm and ranch situation if food producers can’t eke out a living on the land.

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