NEW REPORT: Smarter Land Use Planning is Urgently Needed to Safeguard Massachusetts Land That Grows Our Food
WASHINGTON, DC – Smart growth and investment in Massachusetts downtowns and main streets must occur now to secure the land that grows our food, according to American Farmland Trust’s new report Farms Under Threat 2040: Choosing an Abundant Future and the accompanying web mapping tool.
AFT’s Farms Under Threat research has shown that by 2040, as many as 73,200 acres may be lost to urban and low-density conversion across Massachusetts, representing an area nearly twice the size of Boston. Most of that loss will be highly concentrated around urban centers experiencing rapid population growth, particularly in the Worcester metro area.
During a worse-case scenario of Runaway Sprawl, Massachusetts may lose as much as 89,400 acres of farmland. Additionally, by 2040, 600 acres of agricultural land may be impacted by rising seas due to climate change. By investing in farmland protection and making smart growth choices, Massachusetts could save over 39,300 acres of farmland, $44 million in farm output and 2,400 jobs.
“Given that one of Massachusetts’s largest economic engines is agriculture, farmland protection is critical for the state economy and farm families,” said Nathan L’Etoile, AFT New England Regional Director. “By investing in farmland protection at the state and local level, Massachusetts can further leverage national farmland protection programs and other successful models. Additionally, there is an urgent need to work within and across the state to address the threats to Massachusetts’s farmland through permanent easements, zoning and other protection methods. This is particularly important in the highest threatened areas surrounding Boston and Worcester.”
For a brief summary of national results: National media release
Register for September 9, 2022, Massachusetts State Webinar here
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.