Recognizing the fundamental impact that local government land use decisions have on California’s farms and ranches, American Farmland Trust is co-sponsoring the new Sustainable Farmland Strategy legislation (AB 1961) introduced in February 2014 by Assembly Agriculture Chair Susan Talamantes Eggman. The bill would require California counties to complete an assessment of their agriculturally-zoned lands, review their policies and adopt a plan to retain land for farming and ranching.
“Despite all efforts to conserve farmland since the 1980’s, this irreplaceable resource continues to be permanently converted to non-agricultural uses at the rate of 30,000 acres per year,” explains AFT’s California Director, Edward Thompson, Jr. “If this continues, California will lose another million acres of farmland by 2050, further narrowing the options for the state’s $40 billion agricultural industry at a time when climate change, drought and other forces also put our food supply at risk.”
According to the state’s Farmland Mapping & Monitoring Program, since 1990, California has lost more than 600,000 acres of farmland to urban development and other non-agricultural uses. Almost all of this loss was officially approved by local governments. A recent AFT study of the San Joaquin Valley, California’s most productive agricultural region, showed that many local governments are not living up to their own farmland conservation policies. For instance, in a county whose official policy calls for “avoiding development of the best farmland,” nearly 9 in 10 acres developed has been prime farmland.
“AB 1961 gives counties an opportunity to undertake a good faith re-assessment of their plans and policies affecting farmland, and to make changes necessary to do a better job of balancing development with the need to sustain California agriculture,” Thompson continues.
A hearing on AB 1961 will be held by the Assembly Local Government Committee on April 2, 2014. Before then, AFT urges you to send letters of support for the bill to:
Hon. Susan Talamantes Eggman c/o Victor Francovich, Senior Consultant, Assembly Committee on Agriculture
Use AFT's sample letter
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mailing address: Room 362, Legislative Office Building, 1020 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.
California Office P.O. Box 73856
Davis, CA 95617