Trends in the Region
What is threatening farmland?
The most serious threat to the viability of farmland in the region is rapid suburban development. Much of the region's growth in the past several decades has occurred on former agricultural land. Often, residential development occurs first, and then creates demand for more roads, schools, and other services. The housing market bubble over the last couple of years, with decline beginning in 2006, has dramatically slowed down the pace of development, it still remains as one of the most significant threats to farmland.
Farmland is desirable to residential and commercial developers because it is inexpensive to acquire and develop. In a survey completed in 2007 by the Illinois Society for Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ISPFMRA), farmland per acre sold in 2006 between $3,600 to $10,625 for prime land, $3,400 to $5,600 for good quality land, and $1,800 to $3,500 for recreational tracts of land for activities such as agri-tourism. The highest prices paid per acre for recreational tracts were concentrated in Southern Illinois; within Northeast Illinois land values were also high and values were between 7% and 12% higher than the prior year (Aupperle, Schnitkey, ISPFMRA).
Should private developers be more considerate of agricultural land when building housing communities? Is there a way to involve developers in preservation and create more accountability?