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Report: Sprawl Affecting Farmers in Greater Washington Region

According to a recent report, the self-sufficiency of agriculture in the Washington, D.C. region is declining. Encroachment from suburban sprawl, driven by a region-wide housing crunch, is one causal factor.
February 22, 2019, 12pm PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Saucy Salad (Rebecca Wilson)

Farm acreage and food production in the Washington region have been declining for decades, according to report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (link in article). 

"Prior to consolidation and other changes in the agriculture sector," Stephen Hudson writes, "parts of the region, such as the Delmarva Peninsula, were historically substantial producers of food. Today, farmers in our region face a number of challenges. For one, farming is a high-risk business with low profit margins. Second, the region's farmers are aging rapidly."

Then there's the high price of land, which has in some cases led to the development of suburban subdivisions on former agricultural plots. The report also discusses zoning, which can restrict farmers who want to construct tall barns and silos, or prevent them from carrying out certain productive activities.

"Perhaps the most important thing that the report touches on is the conflict between maintaining farms and increasing housing for people in a region badly crunched for homes," Hudson writes.

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Published on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 in Greater Greater Washington
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