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.
It 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.