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
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.