Urban Fold

CA's Land Conservation Program Could Disappear

A successful, 1965 California farm and ranch land conservation tax mechanism is under threat by Gov. Brown of dissolution due to the $25 billion deficit. If dissolved, individual counties would have to determine to keep the tax program going.

As Gabriel Metcalf of SPUR noted, dissolving both the Williamson Act and redevelopment agencies could compount the likelihood of exacerbating sprawl development, as tax incentives for urban development would be removed just as tax incentives for keeping farmland as farmland are eliminated.

"The rules are simple. Counties provide the property tax breaks, which can range from 20 percent to 75 percent, depending on the age and location of each ranch or farm. The state historically gave counties back some of that money -- about $35 million"

"This is the only issue where the Sierra Club and the Farm Bureau and the Cattlemen's Association are saying the same thing," said a Livermore rancher.

KQED's Quest goes to a Yolo County outside Sacramento to tour a 7500-acre Black Angus cattle ranch to learn more about the Williamson Act. Listen to the 6-minute Audio Report: Land Preservation on the Chopping Block. The rancher states that most ranchers couldn't afford to pay the full taxes on their land when it takes "40 acres to raise one cow/calf pair".

Thanks to California League of Conservation Voters

Full Story: Cows or condos? California's leading farmland preservation program faces the ax amid budget woes


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