Planning for California Agriculture and Climate Resilience - American Farmland Trust

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Please Join Us for This Important Conversation

California stands at a crossroads. The state is experiencing a long-term housing supply crisis, with housing demand far outstripping supply. At the same time, California is losing 50,000 acres of farmland annually, while also experiencing climate-related disasters that threaten our nation’s food system and local communities.  

drone shot of San Joaquin Valley agIt is vitally important to protect this farmland, while growing California cities effectively, for the state’s future and our nation’s food security. Often overlooked, farmland protection is a valuable tool for mitigating climate-related natural disasters such as flooding and wildfires. Urban sprawl not only increases greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, due to longer commutes, but this sprawl also encroaches on agricultural lands that both store carbon and sustain our economy. 

There are practical solutions and approaches that can help communities protect valuable agricultural land, while promoting smart growth. Effective conservation of farmland is possible and there are a variety of ways to accomplish it if localities summon the political will to do so. 

Planning for California Agriculture & Climate Resilience Webinar: June 25, 2021, 9 to 11 a.m. PDT. 

You are invited to attend this webinar event with subject matter experts and practitioners to discuss local planning for California agriculture and climate resilience. Register now. You will hear from: 

  • David Shabazian, Director, California Department of Conservation 
  • Stephanie Anagnoson, Madera County, Director of Water and Natural Resources
  • Steve Maxey, Merced County, Deputy Director of Planning
  • Julia Freedgood, AFT’s Farms for a New Generation Director and Senior Advisor 
  • Cris Coffin, AFT’s National Agricultural Land Network Director and Senior Advisor 
  • Kara Heckert, AFT’s California Regional Director
This Webinar Will Provide
  • Innovative multi-benefit local planning for agriculture case studies 
  • Resources for professionals to engage in local planning for agriculture 
  • Local and state policy approaches
  • Networking opportunities
Who Should Attend 

Planners, land trusts, municipalities, state agency employees engaged in planning efforts, NGOs involved in food systems and climate-related work. Register now.

About the Hosts 
McGrath Family Farm and 101 highway

American Farmland Trust: For more than 40 years, AFT has protected farmland, supported environmentally sound growing practices, and kept farmers farming. AFT has worked across the United States to help communities realize their goals and give farmers a voice in the planning processes. In more than 50 plans across the nation, AFT has helped different states and communities create the vision, road map, policies, and public investments needed to respond to market demands, support resilient food systems, balance the needs for renewable energy, and attract a diverse new generation of sustainable farmers and ranchers.  

In California, AFT has been instrumental in supporting research and sponsorship of several farmland protection programs, including the Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation Program and California Farmland Conservancy Program. As a national agricultural land trust, AFT has developed a variety of resources for practitioners aimed at supporting their efforts to protect their local agricultural lands. 

AFT’s National Agricultural Land Network (NALN)In 2020, AFT launched the NALN to further strengthen the collective capacity of public agencies, planning entities, and land trusts working to protect agricultural land. The NALN is designed to grow the capacity and momentum needed to elevate the cause of agricultural land protection across America.   

San Joaquin Valley FarmThere are more than 418 current NALN members already, including state agencies with jurisdiction over agriculture, conservation or planning, county and local Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement programs, private land trusts, farm and conservation organizations and trade associationsand state land trust coalitions. The NALN also welcomes individuals whose work is focused on advancing agricultural land retention and protection. Individual members may be researchers, planners, legislators, public agency staff, nonprofit organization staff, or individuals serving on public or nonprofit boards and committees that address aspects of agricultural land retention and protection.  

The Speakers

David ShabazianDavid Shabazian, Director of California Department of Conservation  

Governor Newson appointed David Shabazian as the Director of the Department of Conservation in October 2019. Prior to his appointment, Director Shabazian had been program manager of rural-urban connections strategy for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments since 2007, where he has also served as project manager of water resources and floodplain program management since 2004. He was deputy project manager for blueprint land use – transportation study at the Sacramento Area Council of Governments from 2000 to 2004, a post-graduate researcher at the University of California, Davis from 1996 to 2000 and a planner for the City of Davis from 1994 to 1996. David is a member of the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services board of directors. He served on the board of the Center for Land-Based Learning for eight years, three as chair. David is a former member of the Sacramento Metro Chamber Food and Agriculture Committee and the Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Steering Committee. He contributed in numerous state planning efforts including the Delta Vision Stakeholders Coordination Group and the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative Advisory Group. David is an alumnus of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation. He earned a Master of Science degree in transportation technology and policy from the University of California, Davis. 

Stephanie AnagnosonStephanie Anagnoson , Madera County, Director of Water and Natural Resources  

Stephanie Anagnoson is the Director of Water and Natural Resources for Madera County where she serves as the County GSA manager as well as flood control manager.

She has a background in urban water use as well as rural water use.             

Steve Maxey, Merced County, Deputy Director of Planning 

Steve Maxey, Merced CountySteve Maxey is the Deputy Director of Planning for Merced County, where he is responsible for the County’s Planning, Housing, and Water Resources teams. He has fifteen years of local government experience in planning and economic development, with a passion for transportation and sustainability. Steve has previously worked on climate-focused projects for local governments and universities in California and has recently focused on links between agriculture and sustainability that can benefit rural communities.


Kara Heckert, American Farmland Trust Kara HeckertCalifornia Regional Director 

Kara Heckert leads the development and strategy for AFT California’s program. For two decades Kara has worked at the intersection of agricultural sustainability and natural resource conservation in California. Before joining AFT, she was the executive director of the Sonoma Resource Conservation District where she developed and oversaw the organizational strategy that achieved major growth of the RCD’s capacity and programming. She has authored and co-authored a variety of research and outreach publications focused on the balance of agricultural sustainability and natural resource management. Kara serves on a variety of regional and state-wide advisory and policy-related committees aimed at supporting California’s farmland, food systems, and next generation of farmers. 

Julie FreedgoodJulia Freedgood, AFT Director, Farms for a New Generation, and Senior Advisor 

Julia is a national expert in farmland protection, agricultural viability, and food systems. She heads AFT’s efforts to support the future of farming by increasing land access and supporting next-generation farmers. She co-authored “Cultivating the Next Generation: Resources and Policies to Help Beginning Farmers Succeed in Agriculture.” A long-time member of the American Planning Association, she served on USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Grant Review Board and USDA-Secretary Vilsack’s Land Tenure Advisory Committee. She is a founding member of North American Food Systems Network and serves on the Advisory Board and Editorial Committee of the Journal of Agriculture Food Systems and Community Development. 

Cris CoffinCris Coffin, National Agricultural Land Network Director and AFT Senior Policy Advisor 

Cris brings decades of federal and state policy experience, along with coalition development and food system planning, to her current roles at AFT.  She is a veteran of six federal Farm Bills and numerous state policy campaigns, with a policy focus on farmland retention and protection, land access, and farm transfer and succession. An attorney, Cris has served as professional staff on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and as legislative assistant and chief of staff to U.S. Senator Herb Kohl. Cris helped to found and now co-chairs the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative.  

Register Now! Join in this discussion with other planners, professionals, and advocates for protecting farmland, growing cities in a way that allows a climate-resilient food system for generations to come. There is no charge for this event, but registration is required. Please register before June 23.   

We look forward to seeing you there. 

About the Author
Teresa O'Connor

California Communications and Outreach Manager

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