Changing agricultural land: Understanding impacts on southern Wisconsin’s dairy farms and rural communities

PI: Claudine Pied


Pied is an assistant professor and program coordinator of sociology at UW–Platteville. Her research interests include rural politics, economic change, and land ownership and access in the US.

As record numbers of small and mid-sized dairy farms have closed, agricultural lands are changing hands, often being converted out of agriculture or consolidated into larger farms. This project will study the effects of land changes on southern Wisconsin dairy farms and communities and will explore the possibilities of land stewardship as a means to alleviate farmers’ struggles. In the first phase of the project, researchers will analyze existing data on the economies, populations and land sales of Grant and Dane counties. In the second phase, student and faculty researchers will interview farmers and community members to learn about their relationship to the land, how their land use has changed and the benefits and barriers of various agricultural land-use programs. In phase three, a survey will focus on differences in the towns and regions of southern Wisconsin. Study results will ultimately help dairy leaders, government agencies and nonprofit organizations make decisions about land use policy. One of the primary goals is to increase student awareness of land stewardship, strong farms, and healthy communities and build stronger connections between social science and agriculture at UW–Platteville.

Shan Sappleton