Advocating to protect farmland, keep farmers on the land, and help farmers adopt sound farming practices.

American Farmland Trust has deep roots and longstanding experience advocating for policies that support our farmers and protect our farmland.

In California we work with partner organizations and champions in government to advance policies that permanently protect farmland, bring a diverse new generation of farmers onto the land, and enable farmers to adopt practices that combat climate change.

American Farmland Trust plays a unique role in Sacramento, conducting and synthesizing the latest research and bringing people and organizations together to advocate for and enact policies that ensure a strong future for farming in California.

Current Policy Priorities

1. Protect California Agricultural Lands:
  • California is losing 50,000 acres of agricultural land annually, according to the California Department of Conservation.
  • Protecting farmland is a key solution in combatting climate change, according to AFT’s Greener Fields Research.
  • The state’s best agricultural land was 202% more likely to be converted to other uses than the rest of California’s land, according to AFT Farms Under Threat: The State of the States.
  • Additionally, California scored among the nation’s top states for policies and programs that protect land from development, promote farm viability, and facilitate the transfer of agricultural land. But the state invested only .11 per capita/year. In contrast, Delaware earned top score among states for average funds spent per capita/year at $6.03.
AFT’s Policy Recommendations:
  • AFT recently sponsored AB 2964 (Committee on Agriculture), a bill which would modernize the California Farmland Conservancy Program (CFCP) by removing barriers to access for farmers and ranchers. This bill was recently signed into law by the California governor.
  • AFT has ongoing efforts to secure a stable and robust funding source for the California Farmland Conservancy Program.
  • Maintain continuous appropriations for Sustainable Agriculture Lands Conservation (SALC) program.
    • Learn more about the SALC program created by AFT with partners to permanently protect agricultural land.
  • AFT supports the ongoing funding support and effective implementation of the Department of Conservation’s Multi-Benefit Land Re-Purposing Program.
2. Scaling Up Regenerative Agriculture in California
  • Regenerative agricultural practices build soil health, sequester atmospheric carbon into the earth, conserve groundwater resources, and increase biodiversity.
  • Implementing healthy soil practices can help farmers increase crop yields, boost yield stability, and improve economic bottom lines.
  • Learn more about AFT’s Soil Health Bottom Line in California.
AFT’s Policy Recommendations:
  • Support a minimum of $50 million dollars in annual funding for California’s Healthy Soils Program.
  • Support and expand technical assistance programs for farmers and ranchers. Assure effective implementation of California’s Conservation Agriculture Planning Grants Programs.
  • Maintain funding of California’s State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Programs (SWEEP).
3. Foster Diversity in California’s Agricultural Communities
  • The average California farmer is nearly 60 years old. Nationally, 40% of farmland will transition over the next 15 years. Successful farm transfer and land access strategies have never been more important for a new generation of farmers.
  • Learn more about AFT’s Farms for a New Generation in California.
  • California had at least 47,907 women producers, or around 37% of producers, according to the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture. Many face gender-based barriers to managing their land for long-term sustainability. Despite playing an increasingly important role in farm decision making, as well as having a strong inclination towards conservation, women remain underrepresented in using USDA and state-based conservation programs that could support their farm’s viability and conservation success.
AFT’s Policy Recommendations:
  • Support efforts to increase access and funding to new, beginning, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to assist in securing agricultural land.
  • Align state resources to purchase and protect agricultural lands, allowing new, beginning, and socially disadvantaged farmers to access lands when resold at affordable prices.
  • Increase knowledge, appreciation, and acknowledgement of the diverse and important roles women play on California’s farms.
  • Encourage consistent demographics data collection in tracking the use of state conservation programs.
  • Model and recommend best practices for effective outreach to woman farmers, while supporting state and federal programs for gender equity.
    • Learn about the California Women for Agriculture Resolution. CA-ACR158. More from AFT’s Women for the Land team on the resolution.

 

AFT is an active member of the multi-sector Food & Farm Resilience Coalition. The group is working to secure state funding for sustainable and climate-smart farming technologies, energy-efficient and permanent farmworker housing, healthy school food and senior nutrition programs, and much more. Join us.