Ag Plan Aims to Preserve Santa Clara County Farms, Rangeland

Silicon Valley is going back to its roots.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors today will vote on a blueprint for preserving farmland in the region once known as the Valley of the Heart’s Delight.

Developed over the past seven months by a preservation task force chaired by supervisors Dave Cortese and Mike Wasserman, the plan aims to preserve 12,000 acres of ag land and curb conversion of 28,391 acres of viable farmland and rangeland to development.

In the past three decades alone, the county has lost more than 21,000 acres of fertile land to urban development. One of the biggest priorities in the newly unveiled ag plan involves purchasing development rights on certain parcels to allow farmers to keep farming.

The purchasing program has targeted the acquisition of 12,000 acres, which would cost about $250 million to $500 million, according to official estimates, with some funding potentially coming from the county’s year-end funding balance.

“This effort has been close to my heart as a rancher who grew up in the Valley of Heart’s Delight as part of a farming family,” said Cortese, a third-generation apricot and prune farmer. “It’s amazing that we still have this opportunity to save so much acreage. We must not squander it.”

The ag plan—developed with help from the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, among other agencies—gained some momentum last week when the California Department of Conservation bequeathed a $15 million grant for the county to snap up three farmland easements comprising a total 253 acres.

In addition to the land buys, the ag plan spells out a number of other priorities for protecting the local agricultural economy, such as lowering property taxes in designated “farmland security zones,” upgrading agricultural infrastructure and launching a branding program for the industry in addition to an ag incubator.

To read more about the ag plan, click here to explore the county’s landing page for the blueprint, and here to read the actual document up for discussion.

4 Comments

  1. Am I getting this right:

    “One of the biggest priorities in the newly unveiled ag plan involves purchasing development rights on certain parcels to allow farmers to keep farming.”

    Does this mean the county is *paying* agricultural property owners $ so they will not/cannot change their land use? Sweet deal for the farmers, less so for county taxpayers who are essentially paying the farmers to make sure their land does not becomes higher tax revenue parcels.

  2. LOL, “Designated Farmland Security Zone” WTFIT? Are they going to build a wall around it?
    No Taxes on farm land? Who’s taxes dollar are paying for this and what’s getting cut?
    Roads, Public Transit, Schools, Police and Fire, Libraries, Perhaps, free health care, micro houses in the park, sanctuary city legal defense funds, government employees pension funds.

    I know lets grow pot man and we’ll just tax the hell out of it.

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