Planning and Community Health Research Center
Agriculture is a dominant land use in the United States, with nearly 1 billion acres of land in agricultural use. However, unmanaged, sprawling development and growth patterns coupled with an aging farmer population pose significant pressures on farming, especially small-scale, fresh food farming at the urban-rural edge.
Urban counties account for the majority of fresh food production — 86 percent of fruit and vegetable production and 63 percent of dairy production — but are also experiencing significant population growth. National, regional, and local agricultural policies directly affect where and how food is grown and the impact of agricultural production on energy use, air and water quality, vegetation cover, and biodiversity.
Considering these issues, planners play an important role not only in preserving farmland on the urban fringe, but also in balancing the interests of large- and small-scale agriculture and industrial and sustainable agriculture on the public, social, ecological and economic health of communities.