Michigan Land Use Institute

MLUI / Articles from 1995 to 2012 /

January 21, 2004 |

THE PROBLEM : If current land use trends continue unabated, the amount of Michigan land covered by parking lots, subdivisions, and strip malls could almost triple by 2040. A chief reason: Farms , which are important protectors of open land and beautiful, tourist-friendly scenery, are reeling from market consolidation that has seen half of them fold since 1960. In Michigan, the farms nearest the state's largest, most rapidly sprawling metropolitan areas are easy targets for developers intent on building more suburban housing tracts in the quiet countryside.

THE SOLUTION: More farmers are jumping off the commodity production treadmill that has put so many of their colleagues out of business and are instead developing a new world of opportunity. This switch to new, entrepreneurial activities boosts their profits, increases the state's income tax revenues, expands the state's job base, protects the land, invigorates local commerce and communities, and makes Michigan a more attractive place to live and visit.

THE STATE LEGISLATURE SHOULD:

Support entrepreneurial farm and food system development, particularly for small- and medium-sized operations, with business, technical, and financial training and assistance, strategic economic development, and a state food policy council. Reinforce this by establishing agricultural production areas that encourage farming through tax incentives for growers and that curb land speculation and development through conversion fees for developers who build on formerly protected land. Use the conversion fees to finance the incentives for growers as well as other farmland preservation and farm viability programs. Require ‚Äúconcentrated animal feeding operations‚ÄĚ to use waste control methods that adequately protect public health and the environment.

Michigan Land Use Institute

148 E. Front Street, Suite 301
Traverse City, MI 49684-5725
p (231) 941-6584 
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