Cities and counties in California's Central Valley are starting to adopt policies to offset the development of farmland. The new policies require developers to fund or purchase agricultural conservation easements.
Spurred by Sierra Club lawsuits, San Joaquin County has become California's center of new farmland mitigation policies. The environmental group filed three lawsuits in recent years over the conversion of farmland to urban development. Settlements of those lawsuits resulted in new development impact fees to fund the acquisition of agricultural easements on remaining farmland. The City of Stockton has gone so far as to require developers themselves to acquire easements.
"It's undisputed in my mind that farmland protection policy has picked up serious profile," said Bill Martin, executive director of the Central Valley Farmland Trust, which is administering Stockton's new program.
Numerous other local governments and advocacy groups in the Central Valley are studying the new policies.
Thanks to Paul Shigley