Professional Practice

Smart Policies for a Changing Climate: Agriculture

Conventional—and unsustainable—development patterns of  urban and suburban sprawl are causing significant loss of  farmland across the United States and around the globe. Changing weather patterns, severe weather events, and competition for water resources are putting additional stress on agricultural systems and directly affecting the global food supply. In addition, various agriculture practices reduce soil fertility, causing soil erosion, and polluting groundwater and surface water resources while releasing carbon dioxide into the air. Clearly, design and planning for climate change and resilience must address current and potential impacts on agriculture and food security as well as soil health   Agricultural systems and food security must also be viewed through the lens of  environmental justice; low-income and underserved communities typically suffer from “food deserts”—a lack of  convenient
or affordable access to healthy food choices.

Design and Planning SolutionsConserve farmland and protect soils that are deemed prime farmland.

Address food deserts and equitable access to healthy food in community and transportation planning and zoning.

Include opportunities for urban and suburban agriculture in community planning.

Promote healthy soil education and practices, restoring the ability of  soil to sequester carbon.

Policy Recommendations

Incentivize urban and suburban agriculture.  

Protect current farmland and prime farmland soils
through zoning, incentives, and promotion of  local produce and other farm income opportunities.

Identify and address food deserts by providing incentives for locating fresh healthy food options in underserved areas and promoting food co-ops.

Promote healthy food education

Adopt agricultural policies and farm insurance programs that encourage conservation farming practices
that build soil health, increase food’s nutritional value, and sequester carbon.

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