A Deep Dive into the Loss of Farmland and Ranchland - American Farmland Trust

We’ve detected that you are using an outdated browser.

Please use a new browser like Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Microsoft Edge to improve your experience.

We’ve detected that you are using an outdated browser.
January 8th, 2020

A Deep Dive into the Loss of Farmland and Ranchland


Here at AFT, we are undertaking a sweeping effort to map development on agricultural land. A major report of our Farms Under Threat project is slated to come out later this year. So, it was exciting to see a recent article in the New York Times documenting development patterns over the last decade. While this article doesn’t specifically focus on agriculture, it validates what our analysis is showing: large blocks of productive farmland and ranchland are disappearing left and right. Take a look at the article for some great (and frightening) visuals.

Our upcoming report will illuminate these patterns with many layers of additional depth. We have mapped the location and the quality of all the agricultural land in the lower 48 states. And we know how much of that land was converted to development from 2001-2016. Not only that, but we provide insight into an important but oft-ignored threat to agriculture: low-density residential development that eats up large swaths of land, fragments agricultural areas, and can make life difficult for working farms and ranches.

We want everyone to be able to explore these patterns, so we are going to put our maps directly into the hands of the public. We will be launching an interactive website that will let people zoom in, select different map types, and access key summary information for each state. That spatial data will be paired with an in-depth assessment of state-level policies for protecting agricultural land and supporting farmers and ranchers. Together, this information will be a powerful tool for advancing farmland protection across the United States. Stay tuned for the release!