The Future is Now: Central Valley Farmland at the Tipping Point?
Executive Summary
Resumen Ejecutivo
Current Trends
     Population Growth
  Farmland Use and Development
  Quality of Farmland Developed
  Efficiency of Urban Development
  "Ranchettes" & Other Rural Development
  Agricultural Trends
Local Plans & Performance
  Analytical Method
  Sutter County
  Sacramento County
  Yolo County
  San Joaquin County
  Stanislaus County
  Merced County
  Madera County
  Fresno County
  Tulare County
  Kings County
  Kern County
Where is The Valley Heading?
Time for Change
  Ideas for Change
What You Can Do
  Rank Your County
  Local Official Contacts
  Local Organizations
  Support AFT
Methodology & Background Data
About AFT in California

What You Can Do to Save Central Valley Farmland and Improve Your Community

Everyone with a stake in Central Valley agriculture and the quality of its communities — from public officials who make the critical decisions to the constituents who elect them — can and must play a role in reshaping future land use patterns.

We urge local officials to take up the challenges and consider the potential solutions featured in the Ideas for Change section of this report. American Farmland Trust extends an offer to meet with them to discuss how these ideas could be implemented in their particular communities. We also encourage them to participate in efforts to think more regionally about land use in the Valley, such as the SACOG Blueprint Project, the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley and the on-going transportation and land use planning collaboration of 8 San Joaquin Valley councils of government.

Photo by Ramona Saunders

We hope that interest groups that often clash over land use issues -- developers, agricultural organizations, civic and environmental groups -- will put aside differences and try to find common ground. All stand to gain if land use rules become more predictable and development patterns become more efficient. More collaborations like the Fresno Growth Alternatives Alliance are sorely needed. AFT pledges to encourage and, if invited, to enthusiastically take part in such efforts to find constructive solutions for smarter growth.

Last but certainly not least, we implore citizens of the Central Valley to get involved in the on-going debate over land use in their communities. Only if enough people make their voices heard will land use decisions reflect the public interest rather than that of special interests. So, hold your local elected officials accountable.

Photo by Ed Williams, CDFA

Begin by reading about your own county's plans and performance at saving farmland. Rank your county's performance based on the data AFT has assembled in this report and your own judgment about what factors are most important. Bring these facts to the attention of local elected officials. Let them know you care about how growth is affecting the future of your community, and urge them to stop sprawl in favor of efficient development that avoids the best farmland, reduces air pollution and traffic congestion, and saves tax dollars. Click here for links to county and city official contacts. And combine your voice with that of other concerned citizens by joining agricultural, civic and other local nonprofit organizations that are engaged in the land use policy debate. Click here for a list of organizations.

Finally, we hope you will see fit to support the efforts of American Farmland Trust to promote smarter growth and farmland preservation in the Central Valley. This incredible agricultural resource has consistently ranked among the most threatened in the United States, based on AFT's scientific "Farming on the Edge" analysis of agricultural productivity and development trends. We as a society simply cannot afford to fail at preserving the precious Central Valley farmland that sustains us.

Together, we can make a difference. So, take action ... The Future Is Now!

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