By Sharma Torrens, Land and Water Program Manager for Arizona Land and Water Trust: Agriculture is a major contributor to the economy, and vital in providing Arizonans and the world a food supply (many Arizonans are already food insecure and do not readily have access to healthy food). Not only is agriculture vital due to the above, but, few understand that agriculture is actually good for the land. How could agriculture actually be good for the land when some of us were taught the opposite?
Below are my 5 main reasons.
1) Farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of the land since their livelihoods depend on healthy land and if they overgraze or harm the productivity of the land, they are the first to suffer;
2) Working lands provides open space and un-fragmented wildlife habitat;
3) Farms and Ranches provide vital fire buffers between densely populated areas and high risk fire areas;
4) Farms and Ranches help reduce the urban heat island effect, which occurs when development and the resulting pavement increases night time temperatures as well as evaporation rates;
5) Farms and Ranches prevent unregulated lot splitting and resulting groundwater depletion, as AZ law permits lots to be split into 5 lots, with each dropping a new well and draining Arizona’s limited resource even further.
For Editor’s Note: As an Arizona native, witnessing the explosion of development, and working for a nonprofit that works to conserve agriculture, Sharma Torrens understands that working landscapes are good for the land. Sharma serves as the Land and Water Program Manager for Arizona Land and Water Trust (www.alwt.org), with a mission of conserving Arizona’s heritage of working farms and ranches, open space and water. Sharma, a participant in Project CENTRL Class XXIII, a leadership program focused on cultivating rural community leaders, is now determined to raise public awareness about the value of agriculture.