The Future is Now: Central Valley Farmland at the Tipping Point?
Executive Summary
Resumen Ejecutivo
Current Trends
     Population Growth
  Farmland Use and Development
  Quality of Farmland Developed
  Efficiency of Urban Development
  "Ranchettes" & Other Rural Development
  Agricultural Trends
Local Plans & Performance
  Analytical Method
  Sutter County
  Sacramento County
  Yolo County
  San Joaquin County
  Stanislaus County
  Merced County
  Madera County
  Fresno County
  Tulare County
  Kings County
  Kern County
Where is The Valley Heading?
Time for Change
  Ideas for Change
What You Can Do
  Rank Your County
  Local Official Contacts
  Local Organizations
  Support AFT
Methodology & Background Data
About AFT in California


This report would not have been possible without the contributions and cooperation of a great many people and institutions.

Photo by Ed Williams, CDFA

The basic farmland data came from the Farmland Mapping & Monitoring Program of the Department of Conservation, California Resources Agency. This is one of the best geographic information systems of its kind in the U.S., and its program leader, Molly Penberth and her staff were extremely knowledgeable and helpful in understanding its many dimension. They also provided the specialized regional maps found in the report. Mike McCoy, director of the Information Center for the Environment at the University of California, Davis, offered valuable insight about the capabilities and limitations of GIS systems.

The yeoman work of assembling land use policy information and conducting a professional analysis of city and county general plans was done by Terrell Watt, AICP, of Terrell Watt Planning Consultants. Terry also provided invaluable advice and insight on land use issues and general planning law throughout the course of this project. Our debt to her is incalculable.

Photo by Ed Williams, CDFA

We also want to acknowledge and thank the many county and city planning directors and their staff throughout the Valley who were generous with their time and experience in helping us understand the nuances of land use policies affecting farmland, and in reviewing the draft report. Elected officials from every county also took time from their busy schedules to offer invaluable "on the ground" perspective on local land use issues, policies and initiatives.

Alvin J. Sokolow, an emeritus Cooperative Extension educator at U.C. Davis, and one of the most knowledgeable farmland protection experts in California, provided a wealth of technical and editorial advice. Carol Whiteside, who as president of the Great Valley Center, has done as much for the Central Valley as anyone in public life, was also generous with her vast storehouse of knowledge and insight. Julia Freedgood, director or AFT's Technical Services Division, provided expert technical and editorial review of the report, as well as moral support.

Chris Steins, CEO, Michael Jelks and Jon Mak of Urban Insight, Inc. in Los Angeles provided basic Web design services as well as a continuing tutorial on the finer points of preparing a report for the Internet. Lupe Garcia of Land Watch Monterey County kindly provided Spanish translation.

Photo by Ed Williams, CDFAFinancial support for this research was provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, The Surdna Foundation, Bank of America and several anonymous individual donors as well as the members of American Farmland Trust.

Last but certainly not least, members of the AFT Board of Directors from California, past and present, have provided guidance, assistance and inspiration beyond anything that a state director could hope for: Bob Gallo, Tom Gallo, Rich Rominger, Barton "Buzz" Thompson and Doug Wheeler.

Of course, none of these contributors and collaborators bears any responsibility for errors or omission or commission in this report. They do have our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for understanding the importance of this work and the mission of preserving California's irreplaceable, world-class farmland.

Edward Thompson, Jr. Edward Thompson, Jr.
California Director & Senior Associate
American Farmland Trust
Davis, April 2006