Can we stop farmland losses? Population growth threatens agriculture, open space
Albert G. Medvitz, Harvard University in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy
Alvin Sokolow, Department of Human and Community Development, UC Davis
California Agriculture 49(6):11-17. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v049n06p11.
California, the nation's top agricultural producer, also leads the states in the number of new residents added annually. California's population is projected to double to 63 million by 2040. If the resulting increase in urban acreage replaces farmland, California agriculture will lose nearly 5 million acres — 17% of today's total farmland base. With it will go open space, which is now a refuge for some wildlife.
In the past, population growth did not reduce farmland acres because there was always more land to convert to agriculture. That scenario no longer exists due to limited cultivable land and water. Adaptations in farming practices and urban form such as higher densities and more compact development could limit the conversion of farmland to urban uses.
A.G. Medvitz, a rancher in the Rio Vista area of Solano County, has an Ed.D. degree from Harvard University in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy; A.D. Sokolow is Public Policy Specialist, Cooperative Extension, Department of Human and Community Development, UC Davis.