Saving our Rural Landscape
Sustainable farmers help protect our natural environment. Responsibly managed farms conserve ecologically sensitive areas and filter polluted runoff, while farming organically can restore the soil, increase biodiversity, and absorb carbon pollution. Farms are an integral part of Maryland’s vast rural landscapes.
But as Maryland’s population grows, sprawling development is increasingly encroaching into farmland. The impacts of housing and commercial developments, roads, malls, and parking lots consume forests, wetlands and farmland – changing the land forever.
Maryland is steadily losing our most valuable farmland to development. In the last 30 years, 366,000 acres of farmland have been converted to development in Maryland. The state lost 578 farms and 21,011 acres of farmland between 2007 & 2012 alone. Now, per capita, Maryland has fewer farms than most other states and only 30% of our overall acreage is used for farming.
According to United Nations reports, major changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems, with a recommended shift toward local small-scale farmers and food systems, greater farm diversity, and reduced use of chemicals.
Preserving farmland is critical to ensuring the safety of our food supply and protecting Maryland’s rural heritage. But to guarantee healthy soil and a prosperous future, we need to explore new ways to support smaller-scale, sustainable farming, rather than rewarding large-scale producers who rely on unsustainable, soil-intensive methods. In order to make smaller-scale farming economically viable, we must build and maintain strong local food systems with affordable markets for these farmers to sell their products, and we must direct subsidies to those who farm against the grain and promote innovative farming techniques that heal the soil.
Fair Farms believes that farming, done right, is a very beneficial use of our land. We must ensure that Maryland protects rural landscapes from development and supports farmers’ farming—sustainably.