A new report suggests farmland loss threatens the state's economy. The survey by the Washington D.C. based Corporation for Enterprise Development points to a challenge for Wisconsin over the next quarter century, according to Steve Hiniker with 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin . "At our current development rate, which is about an acre and-a-half per new unit . . . we project that, given the population growth, we will lose about a thousand square miles of land," says Hiniker.
The national study found Wisconsin losing farmland at a faster rate than all but seven other states, and Hinniker says that could impact not only food production, but hopes for increased use of biofuels, as well. One approach to retaining farmland is Smart Growth. Hinniker says about seventy percent of the state's communities have either finished or are in the process of conducting such local land use plans, and 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin is calling for an increase in funding, to conduct local plans before a mandated deadline of 2010. Hinniker notes that even though Wisconsin is experiencing relatively low population growth, it ranks near the top of states in the rate of farmland loss.