Wisconsin is losing farm land faster than ever before, at a rate of nearly 30,000 acres a year.
State Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen says rapid development is to blame, with farms being paved over or being used for residential developments at an alarming rate. Wisconsin is now the top state in the Midwest when it comes to how quickly agricultural land is being diverted to other uses. The Secretary expects our losses to continue growing as the state continues to add new industries and other developments.
To help stem the tide, the governor's proposed state budget includes the Working Lands Initiative. The program creates a mechanism for the state and local governments to work with farmers on preserving farm land and keeping it dedicated for agricultural uses.
Nilsestuen says the Initiative is not about halting growth in the state. He says the measure is designed to make sure new developments are properly planned to help limit their impact on Wisconsin $51 billion agricultural industry.