Every meal on our plates is filled with ingredients grown on farms. Whether you live in a one bedroom apartment in downtown Ann Arbor or on a 100-acre ranch in rural Jackson County, we all need farms to survive.
In our community, more than 200,000 acres of land are actively farmed. Protecting this lush, productive farmland ensures a swift trip of nutritious food from farm to table, while also preserving the scenic beauty and historic character of rural land, generating $73 billion to the state’s economy and employing over one million residents statewide.
Protecting and preserving local agriculture is a cornerstone of Legacy’s work; meanwhile statewide, over the last 40 years, Michigan farmland has been disappearing at 320 acres a day. According to the American Farmland Trust, farms in Washtenaw and Jackson Counties are among the most productive, and most threatened of any in the nation.
Legacy currently protects 25 farms totaling 2,245 acres, and we are looking at additional paths and partnerships to protect farmland development rights in the future. We are currently working on a creative concept called Farm Next. Through this program, we hope to expand Legacy’s ability to help farmers by assisting them with succession and business planning, paving the way for the smooth transfer of land from today’s retiring farmers to the next generation. Since nearly 472,000 acres of productive farmland are currently held by 35% of farmers who plan to retire in the next decade, all of us must work together to ensure our farming legacy is maintained now and in the future.
The conservation of working farms will help nourish our families, sustain our heritage, and support our economy into the next century. These farms are a vital part of our community, and the way forward will recognize the needs of people living on and served by our farms, supporting today’s farmers and cultivating the next generation.