Can California farmland be saved?
Since 1984, the Bay Area has lost 200,000 acres of farmland to development.
California is losing 30,000 acres of farmland per year.
These alarming numbers fueled discussion at the American Farmland Trust and Napa County Farm Bureau’s conference, California Farmland Protection: Reality or Wishful Thinking, held on Friday, August 2 in Napa. Coming from all across California, attendees were treated to a wide range of speakers including Paul Wenger, President of the California Farm Bureau, and John Laird, California Secretary of Natural Resources.
The overwhelming narrative of the conference was that agriculture is a critical part of California’s economy, culture, and environmental health, and that it should become a higher priority for action.
Expert panelists addressed a wide range of opportunities and challenges, including how inefficient the conversion of agricultural land to development is. Ed Thompson, California Director of the American Farmland Trust, noted that farmland converted for urban use that serves only 2-6 people per acre is a poor return on investment, and not an efficient use of land.
The conference also offered hope: There are numerous state leaders, municipalities, and organizations acting to stop the loss and improve the agricultural economy. Greenbelt Alliance is working to preserve the Bay Area’s vital agricultural lands through our Local Farms & Ranches Initiative.