American Farmland Trust

Online Certificate Program

UMass B.S. Degree Program

Register Here



Land Use PolicIES and Sustainable Farming - PLSOILIN 290C –  (online course)


Land Use Policies and Sustainable Farming

Creating Opportunities and Avoiding Conflicts

Summer - Online Only

Agriculture as a business, lifestyle and land use is influenced by many external forces including the marketplace, consumer preferences, the weather, federal agricultural policies and programs, and international competition.  In the United States, land use policies, typically established and administered at the local government level, also have a tremendous influence, both positively and negatively, on agriculture.  Particularly in urbanizing areas of the country, land use policies may shape the future of local farming as much or more than the economics of food and food production. 


This course will provide students with an opportunity to explore the political, economic and societal forces that influence land use decisions, an understanding of the history of land use policies and planning in the U.S. as they relate to agriculture, a working knowledge of current land use policies and programs tied to agriculture and farming, and an opportunity through case studies to dissect and debate land use issues and conflicts surrounding agriculture.


Student Learning Objectives:

·      To understand the many forces, viewpoints and considerations that shape land use decisions and policies that affect agriculture in the United States.

·      To understand the myriad of land use policies and programs that support agriculture and farming in the U.S.

·      To understand the land use decision making processes in the U.S. and how to influence the outcomes.

Class Topics (by week):

1.   Perspectives on land and land use

2.   History of land use policies in the U.S.

3.   Agriculture-specific land use policies and programs

4.   An introduction to actual land use issues and cases involving agriculture.

5.   Public dialogue and debate – case studies in land use conflict. 


Instructor:  Mr. Robert Wagner.  Mr. Wagner has worked in the field of agricultural land use policy and farmland protection for 30 years with over 25 years with the national, nonprofit conservation organization the American Farmland Trust.  Mr. Wagner will present all the lectures and provide overall leadership for the discussion sessions.  Invited guests will be featured throughout the course.


Format: On-line during a 5-week summer session (July 11 – August 14).


Technology: To view the PowerPoints with notes, make sure you have the Adobe Acrobat Reader (which is available free here).  If you have any problems with technology, please contact the UMass Online Tech Support office for help here.  According to UMass Online, in order to take this course you must:

·        have access to a personal computer (Mac or Windows)

·        be familiar with basic computer skills

·        be connected to the internet have at least a 56 kbps modem

·        have an e-mail program and account

·        have a Java capable browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer)

·        NOTE: Explorer seems to work better sometimes!


Class Size:  Limited to 15.



There will be no final examination.  A final grade will be calculated as follows:

Class discussion and participation       = 10%

Quizzes                                                   = 10%

Journal assignment                                  = 20%

Blogs and formal testimony                     = 60% 

(These are essentially essays.  There will be 5 total: three at 10% each and two at 15% each)


For information contact, Mr. Robert Wagner at;


This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program.   To register for This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program.   To register for upcoming classes, see UMass Online.  Most classes cost $371/credit.  If you would like to register for the Certificate program, you may apply here.

No Farms…. No Food


@2014 John M. Gerber