Many may not be aware that Santa Clara County still has 24,000 acres of farmland that generates 8,100 jobs and $830 million in economic output. However, in the past 30 years alone, the County lost 21,171 acres of farmland and rangeland to development and an additional 28,391 acres are currently at risk of being developed. If we lose more of our farmland, it would not only diminish our local food source, but also result in a loss of the iconic rural character of Santa Clara Valley, the loss of important jobs and farms central to our agricultural economy, and would generate significant greenhouse gas emissions.
The Authority has been working closely with Santa Clara County to develop the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan (Plan), a new, innovative approach to agricultural preservation that will reduce future development of local farmland and potential increase in greenhouse gas emissions and create a vibrant local food economy that contributes to our quality of life. Santa Clara County's working lands have tremendous economic value, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase long term climate resiliency through food security, groundwater protection, and other natural resource benefits. The Plan hones in on four focus areas to accomplish its goal: improved land use policies, a regional agricultural conservation easement program and other voluntary incentives, an agricultural economic development strategy, and a marketing effort to raise awareness about our local agricultural producers with residents and employers.
The Plan was recently endorsed by the Authority's Board of Directors and adopted by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, who also voted to create an Agricultural Preservation Task Force. The Task Force will develop specific recommendations to implement the strategies presented in the Plan and to identify possible funding streams to support those strategies. The Task Force recommendations are expected to be released in early Fall 2018.
Read more about the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan and download a copy on our website.