Planning for Agriculture

Making farm viability and farmland protection an integral part of land use planning

Planning for Ag is a collaboration between the American Farmland Trust (AFT) and GrowSmart Maine (GSM) to make farm viability and farmland protection an integral part of land use planning. We do this through:

1) Advocacy at the local and state levels to advance legislation, planning solutions, and other measures that help safeguard farmland and farm viability;

    • See relevant legislation and our testimony here.

2) Convening partners and channeling resources to amplify smart growth and farm community voices in town and municipal planning processes;

    • We are a statewide Community Resilience Partnership service provider connecting communities with smart growth and farmland protection strategies for climate resilience. Read more about Ag and Climate Resilience here.

3) Enabling local communities and citizen planners to integrate farm viability and farm protection strategies in comprehensive plans and land-use ordinances by making relevant tools and guidance readily available.

    • We work directly with communities interested in planning for agriculture.
    • We have also made land use strategies and ordinances easily accessible for citizen-planners through our Planning for Ag Toolbox.

The initiative is a response to the alarming rate of farmland loss in Maine and across America. Maine lost almost 150,000 acres or 10% of its farmland between 2012 and 2017. In the report “Farms Under Threat”, AFT estimates that about two thirds of farmland loss is due to “low density residential development,” or sprawl.

GSM works with local communities to limit sprawl and encourage development toward existing village centers. Smart growth allows local businesses and farmers’ markets to thrive on walkable main streets, communities to benefit from resilient local food networks, and families to have access to healthy, locally grown food. Reducing sprawl has also been shown to have a positive fiscal impact on town and municipal budgets.

If you have questions or want to explore how we can support planning in your town, contact Harald Bredesen, Program Director, at (207) 248-8166 or

Addressing the housing crisis must be done without undoing the good work to address the climate crisis, and without creating the next crisis of access to farmland and food.
Nancy Smith

Executive Director, GrowSmart Maine

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