KEY POLICY ISSUES
CAFF supports stronger land use planning tools at the local level. For example, local zoning and general plan processes should be strengthened to improve the effectiveness and quality of mitigation programs that protect farmland. We support adoption and enforcement of stronger ag elements in County General Plans.
Mitigation of Farmland Development
CAFF supports the mitigation of development on farmland. We partnered with the American Farmland Trust and the California Climate and Agriculture Network to jointly sponsor a bill in the California Legislature in 2013 to require the mitigation of the development of farmland. Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), the chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee at the time, was the author of AB 823, the California Farmland Protection Act, which clarified that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires such mitigation by saving in perpetuity at least one comparable acre of farmland for every acre developed. The bill was rapidly killed by the Building Industry Association. We sponsored a second bill the following year with the same organizations and adding the CA Farm Bureau, AB 1961 (Eggman) that similarly did not get out of the first committee.
However, the state adopted mitigation requirements for the High Speed Rail project and the Natural Resources Agency developed the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program based in part on these bills. That program became housed at the Strategic Growth Council and receives 10% of the Affordable Housing funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (cap and trade funds). Through 2018 it had permanently preserved almost 100,000 acres of farm and ranch land.
- “Overview of Legal Restraints on Agricultural Land Mitigation Programs” by Osha R. Meserve | February 16, 2011
- “Tools for Farmland Protection: CEQA and Local Mitigation Ordinances” by Osha R. Meserve and Kate Hart
- Decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeals Upholding the Stanislaus County Farmland Mitigation Ordinance
Organizations Working to Save Farmland in California
- American Farmland Trust
- Farmland Working Group Turlock, CA
- California Council of Land Trusts Sacramento, CA
- Yolo Land Trust Woodland, CA
- Land Trust of Santa Cruz County Santa Cruz, CA
- California Farmland Trust Elk Grove, CA
- Marin Agricultural Land Trust Point Reyes Station, CA
- Sonoma County Ag + Open Space Santa Rosa, CA
- Land Trust of Napa County Napa, CA
- Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo
- Santa Clara Open Space Authority San Jose, CA