LONDON, Ohio – Urban growth is playing an ever-expanding role in the way farmers do their jobs, and the growth needs managed, according to Larry Libby, Ohio State agricultural economist.
“Farmers don’t need to be bullied by newcomers to the area or the land market when they can play a large part in shaping their communities,” he said during a presentation during the 2001 Farm Science Review.
Libby has taken part in a number of discussions recently, in which farm neighbors are “city folks,” he said. Almost all rural communities are feeling increased pressure of the rural-urban interface.
The rural-urban interface has become one of Ohio’s top agricultural issues in the past six months, according to Libby, who also noted that Ohio has 13 metropolitan areas.
“No matter where in Ohio you are farming, you’re in the shadow of one of those metro areas,” he said.
Issues have surfaced where the country meets the city because “it’s very easy for people to move to the country today,” said Libby.
Those people want all the benefits of rural living, but “don’t expect to have to sit in traffic on rural roads,” or deal with other issues that are becoming more prevalent in communities.
Traffic jams are only a surface symptom, according to Libby. Other complaints are heard from both sides of the interface, including newcomers who are upset when farmers work early or late and create dust, smell, and noise.
“The future of agriculture in Ohio, especially the livestock industry, is up in the air, and it’s because of this rural-urban interface,” Libby said, noting that all residents of rural communities must be involved in land use planning.
Libby said it was “important for farmers to get a handle on the forces out there” that shape growth, including gathering data about population changes and projections for an area.
“A lot of people who are moving into our communities are not familiar with property protection rights and limits of ownership,” he said, explaining why farmers must deal with trespassers who often don’t realize they’re doing anything wrong.
Dealing with growth
He also offered the following tips for rural residents in dealing with urban growth:
- Be proactive and address the issues in your community. Don’t take the defensive stance of ‘we were here first.’
- Take an active role in your local land use committee. Farmers and rural residents can’t afford to shrug off the responsibility and expect to be satisfied with decisions made. Take interest in farmland preservation measures, which are aimed at making it attractive to farmers to continue farming and maintain interaction with new neighbors.
- Try to have a better understanding of the values of the new residents in your community. Ultimately, the way to better understanding between farmers and new residents is communication.
Surveys across the state show that farmers and rural residents strongly support land use planning and zoning. Libby also stressed the importance of rural land use planning to minimize costs associated with sanitation and utilities, noting that haphazard development increases costs for those services.
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