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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Lehigh Valley Farmland Disappearing

The Northampton County farmer
Lynn Prior, who is with the Greater LV Buy Fresh, Buy Local program, released the findings of an unsettling study concerning the are'a local agricultural industry. This report is based on 2007 census data, so it is a pre-recession report. But the basic conclusion is that not only is farmland disappearing, but so is the farmer.

According to her study, the Lehigh Valley lost 80% of its farms between 1930, when there were 5,032 farms, and 2007, when only 1,002 farms remained. The acres of land devoted to farmland has dropped 53%, from 323,000 acres in 1930 to 153,000 in 2007.

Since Americans require an average of one acre of farmland per person every year, 153,000 acres will only sustain about 25% the Lehigh Valley's population of 647,232.

In addition to the loss of farmland and farmers, the farmer is disappearing as well. The number of farmers under the age of 35 dropped by 37% between 1997 and 2007. Only 17% of farmers actually own the land they farm because land values are prohibitive.

To reverse this process, Prior's organization encourages (1) educating consumers about locally grown foods, including a farm to school program that introduces children to the farmers who grow their food; (2) marketing assistance to local farmers; (3) improving food access in low income neighborhoods; and (4) a Lehigh Valley Food Hub to increase the amount of local food sold in local restaurants and grocers.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

As Ron Angle said, you are fighting progress. he made it clear years ago that farmland preservation is a bandage that will ultimately fail.

Dave Houser said...

Slate Belt area COG is working with Bangor school district and Pen Argyl school district to reestablish an FFA club in the area to promote farming as a career. They will need an adviser but we are trying to raise awareness and bring back something worthwhile that faded out of favor. We understand how important farming truly is to our community.

Anonymous said...

What was expected? Developers offer a windfall to the grandchildren who realize sustaining a farm is difficult. They sell the land or sell out to Monsanto.
Eventually a tipping point will be passed when the remaining farmland can't feed the population.

Anonymous said...

That ship has sailed. Produce is controlled by huge agribusiness now and sold to wholesale at huge volumes. The same with the meat industry. Unsafe meats from slaughterhouses killing hundreds of thousands of animals on a daily basis, 365 days a year. The consumer unfortunately wants to go to Giant and buy packaged meat (they don't care where it came from) and produce that is as cheap as possible.

Locally grown and organic produce now has a stigma of being some hippy trend. The average consumer will never change.

Anonymous said...

Eventually a tipping point will be passed when the remaining farmland can't feed the population.

Unfortunately, a large if not majority amount of UDS farmland, goes to feeding livestock to feed Americans' voracious appetite for meat. Reduce the amount of meat you eat and you help the planet.

Anonymous said...

That should read "US"

Anonymous said...

Of course, farmland is disappearing. When Northampton County vacates office space in the city to seek locations in what was once a booming corn field, what do you expect. We did it to ourselves. The American dream of owning a large house on at least an acre of land was going to have its cost somewhere. Add to that the idea that all commercial and business enterprises need to be next to four lane highways and have enormous parking lots-good bye farmer. The current farm is not a sustainable business model. High land prices have bankrupted the modern farm. The need to maintain high levels of debt have undermined the modern American farm. Why are land prices high? It's the American dream and the need for Northampton County to move its offices out of Easton and Bethlehem.

Alan Earnshaw said...

I suspect the total output of the remaining farmland is significantly higher than the total output of the 1930s-era farms. Yields have improved greatly over the years.

In 1930, the US Census showed a total population of 123.2 million. The 2010 Census showed a total population of 308.7 million. The extra 185 million people need someplace to live. We can either build out or build up. Both have significant negative impacts. Quite frankly, I don't want my children and their future families living in my home 20 years from now, so they're going to have to find someplace to live, and that may mean on homes built on what today is farmland.

Anonymous said...

Let's get rid of Dust Bowl era subsidies and price supports, first. We pour milk into the ground to keep the price up on a planet where souls are starving, while Americans get more obese. We preserve environmentally harmful farmland. We should only preserve what will be returned to its original condition before farmers clear cut it - woodlands.

radical moderate said...


ideally less meat consumption is the way to go. However, most people will not do that. There are those that will eat organic food and be for the most part healthy and then there are those that will not. This is life.

Anonymous said...

Damn Obama again!

Anonymous said...


ideally less meat consumption is the way to go. However, most people will not do that. There are those that will eat organic food and be for the most part healthy and then there are those that will not. This is life.


People need to wake up to the fact that meat production is the problem. It consumes the crops and the water and causes the majority of greenhouse gases.

Anonymous said...

legalize pot that would save the farms