NorthernNotes

Urbanization

It is estimated that 1.5 million acres of productive farmland are lost every year to urbanization.

This figure averages out to almost two acres every minute. There have been many attempts to preserve the land. Yet, the policies chosen to protect America's farms are being revised to destroy them.

FARMERS VS. CORPORATIONS

The 1996 Farm Bill protects prime agricultural land from being developed for non- agricultural usage. This bill is supposed to keep highly productive lands from being overtaken by urbanization. However, a large corporation can come to a small rural community and, within a year or two, have an agricultural area re-zoned so it is able to be used for urban development. The ability for a corporation to throw away their money around and get exactly what they want is unjustified. Prime agricultural land is hard enough to come by for farmers. Now farmers have to competewith companies which will spend whatever it takes to get a prime marketing location. Most American farmers are "utterly" committed to protecting their way of life. The average price for one acre of land can range from $1500 to $3500. For many farmers, considering the average farm in Illinois is 372 acres, that's a lot of hogs to slop and corn to chuck. However, for a large business, expansion could mean an increase in stock prices. The wealthy get wealthier.

THE FACTS

It takes millions of years to create one inch of productive topsoil. Topsoil is created by dead organisms, rocks and other residues pressed together over time. During this process, the topsoil gains the characteristics of being the richest in nutrient content of all soils.

BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT

Perhaps corporations do not realize how much harm they are doing. Or perhaps, they simply don't care. By expanding into new markets, companies are able to reach a larger demographic than they could before rural development. Just as farmers, companies are looking for ways to expand their return on investments.

Nonetheless, it is time that the mutilation of farmland is stopped. Hopefully, the time will never come when a hungry urbanite opens his refrigerator door and cries, "Where's the beef?"

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