| Things to think about
of 1998, only 7 percent of the state’s farmland had been preserved
from development. The other 93 percent remains open to future
existing farmland preservation programs, other alternatives
are needed for landowners who often face financial pressure
to sell their farmland to commercial developers. They should
have better incentives to sell it instead to other farmers,
government, or to preservation groups.
sprawl created by subdivisions in former farming areas contributes
to traffic congestion, longer drives, and air pollution.
In 1998, New Jersey
passed a referendum to spend $98 million per year for the next
ten years to preserve one million acres of the state’s remaining
open space and farmland.
Jersey is called the Garden State because its soil and climate
make it one of the most productive farming areas in the world.
Our farms provide fresh local produce and beautiful vistas,
and recharge our groundwater. Because farmland brings in more
revenue than it costs in local services, it helps keep property
taxes low. New Jersey’s farmland is diminishing. Far from yielding
to forests or parks, though, in many cases this former farmland
has been paved and replaced by strip malls and tract housing.
is the third largest industry in New Jersey. To keep farming
economically viable requires large continuous blocks of farmland.
New development often changes the character of rural areas and
threatens to drive remaining farmers out of business. The loss
of farmland to new residences frequently heralds property tax
increases. As we compete nationally and internationally to attract
top workers and businesses, we must prevail over competitors
based in part on the quality of life that our surroundings offer.
A state with too many strip malls will stand at a disadvantage.
and farmland offer habitat for birds, other wildlife, and a
host of insects and small creatures that perform functions like
pollination and decomposition. Farmlands, when worked responsibly,
filter pollutants from the water and air, and even play a role
in increasing the absorption of rains and preventing floods.
Eating fresh local produce is healthy and reduces the energy
required for long-haul transportation.
vistas and open spaces are associated with our state’s farming
tradition. The Garden State is becoming less and less of an
apt description of New Jersey as the state loses its agricultural
landbase. Instead, sprawling and homogeneous developments are
driving the state’s unique rural communities into extinction.
Preserving our farmland preserves our heritage.
indicator shows the amount of farmland, but not economic viability.
We also have little data on the percent of our local and total
food production, or other agricultural production, that comes
from unsustainable and fossil-fuel dependent methods of farming.
Source: NJ Agricultural Statistics Service