CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Every day, 24 hours, we lose 2,000 acres of farmland. Between now and 2040, Champaign County could lose up to 9,000 acres due to urban sprawl.

It’s a mind-blowing statistic and that is according to the American Farmland Trust. Kris Reynolds is the Midwest Director for AFT.

Kris Reynolds: American Farmland Trust just completed one of the most comprehensive reports of the status of farmland in the United States, and this newest report, Farms Under Threat: Choosing an Abundant Future, is focusing on the next 20-plus years ahead, looking ahead to 2040 and what the potential for farmland loss is going to be during that time period, but also what we can do to reduce the amount of farmland being lost.

Stu Ellis: Between now and 2040, I am sure that number is in the millions of acres, or tens of millions of acres.

Kris Reynolds: Yeah, it really is staggering and here in Illinois, over that time period, we are projected to lose about 360,000 acres of farmland. That is really significant here in Illinois because we have some of the most prime and resilient farmland in the United States.

Stu Ellis: So Kris, what do we do about this?

Kris Reynolds: There’s a lot of things we can do. I think its really important that we focus on smart growth and smart development, more compact development, also working with local planning officials, working with local units of government to try to put some of these measures in place that can limit some of the development and protect that farmland that provides so many different resources to us here in the State of Illinois. And then I think the other part is just more education about some of the opportunities around voluntary conservation easements, to put land into an easement to keep it in agriculture use for here on out.

We appreciate Kris Reynolds of American Farmland Trust bringing this to us.