Agri-Stats: Farmland Losses

American Farmland Trust is a dynamic NGO focused on agricultural issues. They lead on the subject of farmland loss and conversion to development. The continued viability of our agricultural industry is linked to overall economic prosperity. Ag land is linked to many different types of natural resource protections.

In 2018, American Farmland Trust published a detailed report, Farms Under Threat, which provided “hard evidence that America’s farmland is disappearing”. Great maps are provided that illustrate the report’s finding such as correlation between land productivity and development, distribution of Ag lands, combined productivity, versatility and resiliency of Ag land, and the best land for intensive crop production. Recommendations for conserving farmland are included.

Some key findings include:

“- Nearly twice the area of farmland was lost than was previously known. 

– Between 1992 and 2012, we lost nearly 31 million acres of land. That’s 175 acres an hour, or 3 acres every single minute.

– 11 million of those acres were among the best farmland in the nation—classified as the most productive, most versatile and most resilient land.

– Development disproportionately occurred on agricultural lands, with 62 percent of all development occurring on farmland.

– Expanding urban areas accounted for 59 percent of the loss.

– Low-density residential development, or the building of houses on one- to 20-acre parcels, accounted for 41 percent [of the farmland losses].”


National Advisory Committee, American Farmland Trust. Farms Under Threat, The State of America’s Farmland. (2018). https://www.farmland.org/initiatives/farms-under-threat