The goal of this report is to evaluate the composition and strength of the agricultural sector in Scott County, as well as to examine the changes this sector is undergoing in light of projected population growth for the coming years. Based on the county’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan Update, approved by the Metropolitan Council in February 2009, the county will prepare for future growth as designated in their Plan Update and subsequent land use, transportation, land preservation and public investment decisions.
The Scott County region has been transformed since the 1980s, as the county experienced large population growth and residential development in and around its cities. People flocked to the area because of the rural lifestyle, open space, and relative proximity to local job centers (Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Minneapolis, and Saint Paul). The rural charm that draws people to the county stems from the agricultural tradition and roots, where operating farms still remain a fixture of the townships within the county. With regional population projections estimating continued growth in the region, the tension between residential and agricultural land uses has tightened.
The Metropolitan Council estimated that as of 2007, Scott County had a total population of 123,735, with an anticipated population of 221,000 by the year 2030. This large population growth will impact both the developed and undeveloped areas of Scott County, and will put a large demand on the need for housing, infrastructure, and other public services. Undeveloped land will be sought out for the construction of homes and neighborhoods. Land use categories and zoning districts will help guide the county’s growth into compatible patterns with other nearby land uses, yet the agricultural community will still feel the growth pressure. The goal is to accommodate population growth while preserving the characteristics of the greater Scott County area that attract such residents. Without a comprehensive approach to dealing with these tensions, rising land values and the subdivision of large parcels into single family residences will continue to conflict with the agricultural land uses and culture in the county.
This project was commissioned by the Scott County Planning Department, in order to shed light on the nature of the agricultural sector in the county. Qualitative and quantitative measures were reviewed to provide solid factual data as well as anecdotal evidence of the farming community. Four suburban and one rural county were compared to Scott County, looking particularly at the historical trends in agriculture. The report considers the following in light of growth and development within these counties: an overview of the counties’ agricultural sectors and their composition, the market value of crops and livestock and the subsequent farm income of the examined counties, the prevalence of organic and local food producers, and the role of conservation within the agricultural preservation movement. Additionally, a comparison of the agricultural sector and development examines changes within Scott County and Le Sueur County from the 1980s until present.
Boran, Katherine. The Future of our Farmland. May 26 2009. May 29 2009. Hubert H Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
professional paper in partial fulfillment of the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning degree requirement
Aitchinson, Kate Boran.
The Future of our Farmland.
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
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