In my research on land conservation, I have often engaged in
heated debates healthy discussions about whether agricultural land is worth protection. Specifically, we (via local, state, and federal governments) heavily subsidize agricultural production. Additionally, many states have programs to protect agricultural land. Many communities in California, for example, have declared prime agricultural land to be a previous resource and prohibit conversion of agricultural land to other uses without replacing or enhancing agricultural land elsewhere.
The state of Connecticut does not appear to consider agricultural land a natural resource based on the fact that agricultural land does not naturally occur (personally I think that’s debatable). Thinking about the potential definitions of natural resources though, it is hard to leave agricultural land out — especially considering the income made from such land each year. Although the numbers may be misleading considering the levels of public subsidies in agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reporting that income from farms last year were over $100 billion for the first time. Perhaps it is not the ‘resources’ half of the phrase that gives people pause but the ‘natural’ half.