Saving Farmland, Growing Cities: A Framework for Implementing Effective Farmland Conservation Policies in the San Joaquin Valley

January 2013

By: , Edward Thompson, Serena Unger
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Farmland Protection

This report examines farmland conservation in California’s fast-growing San Joaquin Valley and outlines a new framework for land-use policy choices that affect farmland and agriculture. It identifies six key challenges to conserve farmland, and for each, proposes specific, measurable outcomes by which to evaluate success. The six objectives against which the valley’s farmland conservation efforts are evaluated are:

  1. Avoiding the development of high-quality farmland;
  2. Minimizing farmland loss with more efficient development;
  3. Ensuring stability at the urban edge;
  4. Minimizing rural residential development;
  5. Mitigating the loss of farmland with conservation easements; and
  6. Encouraging a favorable agricultural business climate.

The report ends by making recommendations for improving the performance of local governments in conserving farmland.