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America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers don’t want the consequences of immigration-driven population growth

author Published by Rob Harding

Last month I attended the 2024 American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. The experience provided me an opportunity to connect with a variety of farmers, ranchers, and producers from across our awe-inspiring country.

Rob at the 2024 AFBF Convention in January.

The consequences of our expanding population encroaching on America’s farm and ranch strongholds were on the minds of many attendees. Concerns ranged from a desire to protect Idaho farmland, fear of rapid population growth leading Texas to a worse future with fewer farms and ranches, and a preference in Colorado to prevent water used to cultivate crops from being diverted to support additional population growth and urban development.

Rob with “Spuddy Buddy” in front of the Big Idaho Potato Truck
at the 2024 AFBF Convention.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s remarks should give us all pause:

“Since 1981, we’ve lost 437,300 farms. Now, that’s farms families that are no longer in the farming business which means that, in all likelihood, their families are no longer in those small communities, which means their children aren’t in school, which is the reason why schools have had to consolidate. They’re not shopping at the central business district, which means that small, family-owned business may not be in business today; it may be a Dollar store or Walmart. It means that the local hospital, maybe, is now a clinic.

“And the question I ask all of you today is whether we’re okay with that. In a 40-year period, the loss of that many farms. To give you a sense of how many farmers that is…that’s every farmer today in North Dakota and South Dakota, in Wisconsin and Minnesota, in Iowa and Illinois, Nebraska and Colorado.

“At the same time, since 1981 we’ve lost 141 million acres of farmland. Land that was once in farming that isn’t farming today. That’s the landmass of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Maryland. Are we okay with that?

“I’m not. I don’t think you are either. And I don’t think the country can stand a continued acceleration of the loss of small and mid-sized farming operations. We can do better.”

— U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Secretary Vilsack is right: We can do better.

Regrettably, Secretary Vilsack failed to mention that over the same 40-year period America’s population grew by more than 100 million people. Much of that growth happened thanks to immigration. Population growth drives sprawl, and sprawl often translates to fewer farms and farm jobs.

To do better, we need your help. Listen to Secretary Vilsack’s remarks and respond to the Call To Action below.


Contact your representatives in Congress to demand support for common sense immigration restrictions to help protect America’s remaining farms, farmers, and farming communities.

Stay up to date with the Action Board.

Explore the Food Security Fact Sheet and other Fact Sheets on the Sustainability Initiative page.


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