Is There Evidence of a Critical Mass in the Mid-Atlantic Agriculture Sector Between 1949 and 1997?

Ongoing farmland loss has led county planners to ask “is there a critical mass of farmland needed?” to retain a viable agricultural sector. This study examines whether counties lost farmland at a faster rate if the number of agricultural acres fell below a critical threshold. Results from six Mid Atlantic states over the period 1949 to 1997 indicate that counties with fewer agricultural acres lost farmland at a faster rate. However, after splitting the study period into two time segments (1949-1978 and 1978-1997) and modeling separately, this result was not found for the later time period, suggesting a uniform critical mass level may not exist. Population growth in a county accelerated farmland loss over all time periods.

Lori Lynch and Janet Carpenter
Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota
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Publication Date: 
April 1, 2003
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