Saving the San Joaquin Valley

Safeguarding the Single Most Important Agricultural Resource in California and the Nation

Stretching from Bakersfield to the south and the outskirts of Sacramento to the north, the San Joaquin Valley is California's most important and productive farming region.

AFT's Goals

  • Cut the rate of conversion of farmland by half

Requires increasing urban densities and supporting transit-oriented development and more sustainable land use. Will result in saving food production capacity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Permanently protect enough farmland with conservation easements, strategically located around cities

Will positively influence urban growth patterns and reinforce policies that promote more efficient development.

AFT's Successes

  • Beginning in 2011, we spearheaded the San Joaquin Valley Greenprint to encourage more robust regional strategies to conserve and manage farmland and other open spaces.

The first phase – focused on data collection and map building to document the lands, waters, and living resources affected by farmland loss – will be completed in 2015.

A 2013 AFT report found that despite the good intentions of many local governments, the SJV is on pace to lose another 570,000 acres of farmland at a loss of $100 to $190 billion to the economy by 2050.

We work with other statewide conservation organizations to make "greenprinting" a standard practice throughout California, promoting a uniform geographic information system (GIS) platform for the entire state.

  • AFT's advocacy efforts resulted in the cities of Clovis, Tulare and Visalia including farmland mitigation policies in their new general plans. Tulare and Fresno's government boards also followed suit in their Sustainable Communities Strategies, regional land use and transportation plans required under California's greenhouse gas reduction legislation (SB 375).
Farmland mitigation—requiring developers to permanently protect agricultural land for every acre they convert to other uses.

Groundswell San Joaquin Valley is the centerpiece of our efforts to build a broader, more influential constituency for smart growth and farmland protection. As a result, many local organizations now speak out on land use policy issues. And, the Fresno City Council passed a historic new General Plan that will help protect the irreplaceable farmland surrounding the city's borders.

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