Innovative State Policy Advocacy

AFT’s policy efforts at the state level are aimed at delivering information and resources that support local leaders in eliminating the loss of farmland and promoting a vibrant farm economy. Underlying all of its policy work, AFT is driven to increase funding for and implementation of conservation and stewardship-focused programs. Our work entails: 

Pursuing a Statewide Target for Protecting Farmland  

AFT advocates for the State of California to adopt targets for limiting the conversion of farmland. As a result of our advocacy leadership, setting such a target is called out in Vibrant Communities and Landscapes: A Vision for 2050, an inter-agency visioning document. In 2017, at the behest of AFT, the State Board of Food and Agriculture sent a letter to the Strategic Growth Council asking them to pursue such a target.  

California is in the process of formulating strategies for achieving ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets of ​40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below by 2050​​​

Accounting for the Climate Effects of Paving Farmland 

The State of California is formulating strategies for achieving ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below by 2050. Research by AFT demonstrates that protecting our farmland is critical if we are to reach these targets. AFT and our partners work to ensure that farmland conservation is part of the State’s climate strategy.  

AFT also collaborates with partners and local jurisdictions on Sustainable Community Strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By emphasizing more compact community development and alternatives to automobile travel, these plans offer the opportunity to conserve farmland by reducing low-density urban sprawl. 

Creating Model Planning Policies for Local Governments 

AFT is a key contributor to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research’s General Plan Guideline updates, which includes model policies for protecting agricultural resources. 

Within this realm, AFT has campaigned for use of mitigation fees to decrease farmland development—fees are paid by developers when farmland is turned into sub-divisions, movie theaters and mini-malls. Communities can use these funds to permanently protect additional acres of farmland by purchasing easements. In the San Joaquin Valley, the cities of Clovis, Tulare and Visalia included mitigation policies in their general plans. 

Advocating for Permanent Protection 

AFT promotes funding for state and federal conservation programs, such as California’s cap-and-trade-funded Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, the California Farmland Conservancy Program and the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Ag Land Easements (ACEP-ALE) program. 

AFT monitors these programs to ensure that the participation requirements meet the needs of farmers and landowners, while also truly protect our most vital agricultural resources.

Developing Financial Incentives for Healthy Soils 

In collaboration with numerous strategic partners, AFT supports incentive programs that protect California’s soil, water and wildlife. More specifically, we are aiming to grow the impact and scale of the Healthy Soils Initiative -- a statewide program that incentivizes growers to sequester carbon in the soil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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