Despite widespread concern over lost farmland, Michigans agricultural industry remains healthy. Michigan residents are not in danger of food shortages due to the loss of farmland in the state. More importantly, the loss of farmland has moderated in recent years.
Urban land comprises a small part of the states land use. Even if urban land increased dramatically, Michigan would remain a rural state with an abundance of forests and farms. The loss of agricultural land and open space appears to be concentrated in a few of the states fastest growing counties near major urban areas. This suggests that land use trends are, in fact, the result of an orderly process, not chaotic whims of farmers selling their land to developers. Land markets are converting land uses to meet the needs and preferences of Michigan citizens and residents.
Although "urban sprawl" is not "gobbling up" land at unprecedented rates, this does not imply that land development is always benign. Even if farmland preservation were not an issue, concerns over the costs of providing services to new residential and commercial subdivisions and the environmental impacts of development would be important issues that might justify state government attention. These issues are addressed in Part V through Part VII.