‘Palmetto 2040’ Visioning Session Slated for Tuesday Night in Columbia

The American Farmland Trust is sounding the alarm on farmland that’s being lost forever to runaway development and climate change across the US. AFT says both North and South Carolina are top risks nationally for lost acreage between now and 2040 unless something’s done. Coming up Tuesday night November 14 in Columbia, South Carolina, the group and its partners, including the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, is hosting a visioning session for a pilot project focusing on Lexington County. Billy Van Pelt is National Director of Strategic Initiatives and Senior Advisor for AFT.

This project is a geospatial mapping and policy analysis to identify future threats to South Carolina’s farmland jobs and quality of life using Lexington County. The analysis will precisely project wetland is at highest risk of development by 2040. And we’re going to be accounting for both rapid population growth and climate change impact on settlement patterns and agriculture. Palmetto 2040 seeks to identify how Lexington County’s agriculture business quality of life and environment would fare Under alternative scenarios modeled.

Van Pelt tells SFN the three scenarios provide very different outcomes.

Business as Usual, Runaway Sprawl, and Better Built Cities in South Carolina. Under the Business as Usual scenario, South Carolina is projected to fragment or compromise 436,700 acres, and this would occur on 51% of South Carolina’s best land. That’s the equivalent of losing 3600 farms, 239 million in farm output, and about 1900 jobs.

Van Pelt says this Lexington project should be complete by the end of January 2024, and they’ll publicize the results. The public is encouraged to attend Tuesday night’s event at the Phillips Market Center at the State Farmers Market in West Columbia. Register by emailing [email protected]