The aesthetic and environmental services of farmland are not fully accounted for in the market. Farmers produce such products as milk, eggs and livestock, as well as intangible products, such as pastoral scenes and rural heritage. These intangible products and services are not exchanged in markets, yet are much in demand. The structure of farming in the United States has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Technological advances have made large corporate farms much more competitive than small family farms, and the loss of viability of smaller farming operations has pressured many farmers to sell their land to developers. Because of the rapid conversion of farmland to commercial or residential development, issues such as land use, urban sprawl and agricultural land protection have been increasingly attracting the public interest in the United States.
By Lawrence Libby