TheGeography of US Peri-Urban Agricultural Adaptation

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Journal/Book Title

Proceedingsof the TransAtlantic Land Use Conference

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The geography of modern agriculture in the United States has been dramatically shaped by broader changes in the agri-food system, including standardization, commodification, vertical integration, globalization, and increasing concentration in the ownership and control of farm and food production. In peri-urban areas, these sectoral forces of change are compounded by a complex array of land use pressures – including competition for land, increases in land prices, landscape fragmentation, neighbor conflicts, and other urbanization pressures. In this urbanizing context, farmers, farm households, and landowners must decide how to allocate their scarce land, labor and capital inputs to accomplish their household and business goals within this changing environment. Their decisions produce diverse agricultural trajectories, including growth, intensification, on-farm and off-farm diversification, deintensification and decline. Utilizing farmer and landowner surveys from five distinct peri-urban farming regions across the United States, we characterize the diverse trajectories of agricultural change and examine different theories of agricultural structural change. Our results provide an empirical profile of the types and geography of US peri-urban agriculture and the most common adaptive strategies employed by farmers at the urban-rural interface. We also compare these patterns to predictions of alternative agricultural geography models.

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