In many places around the United States, if you ask the natives where they think the end of the world is, the next question you may hear is: “Where did all the good farmland go?”
In this video, we go into the middle of West Virginia to explore the epic gap in rural land values today. It is a vision of a ruined future that looks more like a nightmare of undeveloped land than a vision of an intact farm country.
Of the 3.6 million farms in the U.S., almost a quarter are in West Virginia — a grand total of 1,550 farms on more than 23,000 acres. The rest are scattered in the southeastern parts of the state and in states from Kentucky to North Carolina.
Those farms were predominantly potatoes and tobacco, but over the last 40 years they have been replaced by fewer traditional family farms. In many cases, those farmers are leaving the state altogether. West Virginia is the state with the highest rate of farm deaths.
These farms are bearing the negative effects of climate change, or they’re simply living in fear. Now, those still left behind are trying to stay one step ahead of agriculture’s future.
Garrett Butson-Montgomery is a professor of Environmental & Earth System Science at Purdue University. He produces audio-visual productions about climate change.
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