I posted my concern over the future of my land a few days ago. Several other farmers and ranchers commented -- some with even more dire situations than mine!
It made me realize that so many of us producers are aware of the value (not $$) of our land, but that we're still not getting that realization out to the other half of the equation -- the consumer.
Yes, there are plenty of people out there who are concerned about their food, what it is raised with and where it comes from -- BUT, and its a big BUT -- many still can't take the leap from the what to the who.
Certainly, I am happy that people are starting to ask those questions about the quality of their food and the integrity of the food system -- we can all give Michael Pollen a thank you for that. Still, there is a level of abstract that separates the public from where the food comes from -- and the need to keep open land available for agriculture.
Even my environmentalist friends can put on the "caught in the headlights" look when I mention that individuals need help in holding onto their way of life raising cattle or growing produce. I live next to Austin, and I'm still having the argument that compares apples to oranges -- like this.
How can someone afford to stay on the land when they can sell it for $10,000 (or $20,000) an acre. It's just worth so much more sold than keeping agriculture on it!
Yes, but you can only sell it once. You can make a living off of agriculture year after year.
There may be all kinds of arguments one can make (I can grow olives and make $,5000 per acre, ergo why should I sell my means of production for less than I can make over a five year period or my cattle net me a sizeble return on investment and I must have land to raise cattle).
But lets face it the real problem is that agriculture is the only industry where the land we labor on is in the end considered more valuable to our customers than the product we produce.
Until we alter that perception on their part, valuable agricultural land will continue to rapidly be turned into roads and subdivisions.