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Abstract

This paper reviews the rationale for policies aimed at limiting the conversion of farmland to nonfarm uses from the perspective of the economic theory of property rights. Policy measures to restrict the conversion of agricultural land to non-farm uses are commonplace in many countries. Typically, these policies are introduced to address long-run food security issues and possible externalities associated with incompatibility in land uses. The paper argues that the presence of externalities in the land market does not warrant farmland protection policies. Farmland protection policies in themselves can be a source of policy failure. It concludes that well-defined property rights along with nuisance and trespass laws, are necessary and sufficient for efficient allocation of land and can be a better alternative to farmland protection policies.

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