NEW REPORT: Smarter Land Use Planning is Urgently Needed to Safeguard South Carolina Land That Grows Our Food
WASHINGTON, DC – Smart growth and investment in South Carolina’s farmland protection programs 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 if current trends continue, by 2040 as many as 436,682 acres of South Carolina farmland may be paved over, fragmented, or compromised. That is the equivalent of losing 3,627 farms, $239 million in farm output and 5,874 jobs based on county averages. Fifty-one percent of the conversion will occur on the state’s best land. These losses will disproportionately impact the state’s most productive, versatile land, threaten the future for small and peri-urban farms and limit opportunities for new and beginning farmers.
By choosing FUT’s Better Built Cities scenario instead of Runaway Sprawl, South Carolinians can save 333,000 acres of farmland and ranchland. That is the equivalent of saving 2,677 farms, $184 million in farm output, and 4,310 jobs.
“Given that agriculture is one of South Carolina’s largest economic engines, farmland protection is critical for the state economy as well as our farm families and the environment,” said Billy Van Pelt II, AFT Director of Special Program Development and Senior Advisor. “There is an urgent need to work within and across South Carolina’s counties to address the threats to the state’s farmland through permanent conservation easements, zoning and other protection methods. This is particularly important in the highest threatened areas surrounding metro areas in Columbia and others across the state. Supporting farm viability and helping the next generation of farmers get on the land is key.”
For a brief summary of national results: National media release
Register for the July 22, 2022, South Carolina 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.