Residential, commercial sprawl threatens farmland in Indiana

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ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — Residential and commercial sprawl has negatively impacted agriculture in rural Indiana.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that between 1982 and 2012, residential and commercial developments claimed more than 740,000 acres of land that had been cropland, forest land and prairie.

The Anderson Herald Bulletin reports development can destroy wildlife habitat, increase environmental contamination and decrease the capacity to grow food. The farmland decrease can also lead to non-environmental problems, such as food prices increasing.

Purdue University professor of agricultural economics Craig Dobbins says the answer isn’t to stop building homes and businesses outside of large cities, but to better plan development.

He says many Indiana counties and communities have set zoning ordinances that encourage development near the community’s center while discouraging development on the outskirts.

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