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Copyright (c) 1999 Board of Regents, for Northern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University Law Review

Preserving Farmland, Creating Farms, and Feeding Communities: Opportunities to Link Farmland Protection and Community Food Security

Summer, 1999

19 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 657


Neil D. Hamilton *


Introduction and Overview

This essay is based on three premises:

First, the issue of farmland preservation will continue to be a key challenge for the U.S. and American cities in the upcoming decades. 1 Support for farmland preservation will likely be based on a variety of justifications including: agricultural production needs, open space and recreation, environmental protection, and the economic costs to cities of providing services to scattered development. The main challenge will be in developing workable, politically acceptable, and affordable approaches to farmland protection which leave in place an actual working agricultural landscape for those on the land and the adjacent communities.

Second, the changing nature of production systems within the agricultural sector, such as large-scale integrated swine operations, and structural changes in farm organization, e.g. industrialization and contract production, 2 raise important challenges as to the actual expression or shape of agriculture as it is seen or felt by society. A critical issue within agriculture is the nature of the demographic shifts, long underway, such as the declining farm numbers especially among younger age groups, which raise important issues about who will be the farmers of the future. A key political and social challenge concerns creating opportunities for beginning farmers-the next generation of agriculture-who will be making decisions concerning the use of farmland resources. State and federal programs designed to assist beginning farmers, primarily through financing acquisition of land, are the most notable example of societal efforts to address this issue. 3

Third, important changes are helping ...
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