Saleh Ahmed

Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology


Douglas Jackson-Smith


In recent years, counties in the Intermountain West (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY) have experienced rapid population growth and housing development, and much of this growth is occurring outside of urban areas. Residental development can have negative impacts on farmlands, farm viability, and environmental services provided by working landscapes. In this study, I use county-level data to explore the association between residential settlement patterns and trends in farm numbers, copland acres, and farm sales between 1997-2012 in this region. Results from traditional ordinary least-squares and spatial regression models demonstrate that population pressure (e.g. rural population density), socioeconomic structure (e.g. median household income), and biophysical resources (e.g. length of growing season) are related to different types of farm trends, but that accounting for the spatial pattern or arrangement of rural and exurban residential development can improve models to explain agricultural change. Since spatial dependencies are present among different variables, this study also demonstrates that spatial regression methods are appropriate and useful to use when modeling country-level processes of socioeconomic change.