Farmers fight urban growth

Farmers team up with conservation groups who want to protect farmland from urban growth.

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Farmers in Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah counties are joining convervation groups in their efforts to protect farmland and keep urban growth boundaries tight.

But proponents of urban growth have been arguing that the 1 million people expected to move to the Portland area over the next 20 years makes expanding the boundaries crucial.

At public hearings across the region, plain-spoken farmers in Carhartt jackets, work boots and blue jeans are calling for compact cities, tight urban growth boundaries and strict protection of farmland. Jim Johnson, the state Department of Agriculture’s land-use specialist, said he’s never seen such a collaboration of farmers and environmentalists.

They’ve met some pushback, such as from homebuilders who point out that farm and conservation groups want about 230,000 acres of rural reserves — nearly 10 times more land than would be designated for development.

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