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"...the challenge for California is to assure that the best farmland remains available for agriculture and that urban development doesn't convert any more land than is truly necessary to accommodate its expanding population and economy."


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Paving Paradise:
New Report Details Statewide Farmland Loss

Paving Paradise in CaliforniaOne out of every six acres developed in California since the Gold Rush was paved over between 1990 and 2004, concludes a new AFT report, Paving Paradise: A New Perspective on California Farmland Conversion.  In all, more than a half million acres were urbanized during this period, almost two-thirds of it agricultural land.  Among AFT’s other findings: More than 60% of the land developed in the San Joaquin Valley, which accounts for half of California’s agricultural production, was farmland of the very best quality.  Statewide, development is consuming an acre of land for every 9.4 people – imagine them spread out over a football field.  If sprawling development patterns continue, another 2 million acres of California land will be paved over by 2050.  If, however, the state as a whole develops land as efficiently as Sacramento County or the Bay Area did in recent years, a million acres of California’s irreplaceable farmland could be saved.

The report includes both a database and text that explains and analyzes the data.  The text is available as a pdf “read only” file.  The database comes in two versions, both of which contain data at the county, region and state level.  One is a “read only” pdf file, the other a spreadsheet file from which data can be extracted for additional analysis, presentations, etc.  The spreadsheet version also includes downloadable, “zoomable” maps showing recent farmland loss.  A limited number of printed copies of the 16-page text accompanied by CDs containing the database are also available for $20, which includes shipping.

Download Report (pdf)

Download Database (spreadsheet – 6.8 MB)

Research for Paving Paradise was generously supported by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Surdna Foundation, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank and AFT members.  AFT gratefully acknowledges the use of data collected by the Farmland Mapping & Monitoring Program, Department of Conservation, California Resources Agency, whose 2002-2004 farmland conversion report was also just released.

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American Farmland Trust