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Abstract

Metropolitan agriculture is economically important, especially in the Northeast. While faced with substantial economic and regulatory obstacles, commercial farming in urban areas is surviving and even prospering. In terms of standard models of agriculture in economic development, this is a puzzle. But more detailed, spatial economic models indicate how labor-intensive production of perishable commodities in urbanized areas can make economic sense, especially when coupled with environmental amenities that farming generates for nonfarm people. At the same time, environmental disamenities of agriculture are larger in densely populated areas. The political economy outcomes have tended to be favorable to continued farming, albeit with increased regulation. Nonetheless, many questions remain about the dynamics of agricultural adjustment to urbanization, and the possible steady-state mix of farm and nonfarm activities.

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