NR 2006-17
June 5, 2006

Contact: Ed Wilson
Mark Oldfield
Don Drysdale
(916) 323-1886


SACRAMENTO – Two Monterey County farms will be permanently shielded from development under deals finalized today by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and a local land trust. The farms are owned by the Dolan family in the Salinas Valley and comprise 483 acres. The Monterey County Agricultural and Historical Land Conservancy received $1,033,000 from DOC’s California Farmland Conservancy Program (CFCP) to fund the easement purchase, and the conservancy will hold the easements on the properties.

“Each year California’s tremendously fertile farmland is whittled away by development. Ensuring that we keep our farmland in agriculture is vital to the future of our state,” said Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman, a fourth-generation rancher. “This project is another step in our effort to maintain agricultural production on some of the best soil in the world.”

One farm, 281 acres of strawberries, is located 1.5 miles northeast of Castroville. The other, 202 acres of vegetable row crops, is 1.5 miles southwest of Greenfield.

“Agriculture represents more than 40 percent of Monterey County’s total economy,” Conservancy Managing Director Brian Rianda noted. “You can’t have agriculture without farmland, so preserving as much as we can is vital. We’re grateful for the state’s support of our efforts.”

The California Farmland Conservancy Program, administered by DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection, is designed to ensure that the state's most valuable farmland will not be developed. Local governments and non-profit organizations can apply for CFCP funds to purchase development rights from willing landowners, thus creating permanent conservation easements.

Although California leads the nation in agricultural production, farmland is being converted rapidly for development and other uses. Nearly 54,000 acres of irrigated farmland were taken out of production in the state from 2000-02.

“There’s enough room in this state to accommodate both a growing population and agriculture,” DOC

Director Bridgett Luther said. “The agricultural conservation easements funded by the California Farmland Conservancy Program are an important tool in striking a balance beneficial to all.”

Begun in 1996, the CFCP has provided $47 million in grant funding to permanently shield 33,000 acres of the state’s best and most vulnerable agricultural land from development. The state budget allocated $15 million of Proposition 40 bond funds to CFCP for fiscal year 2005-06. An additional $9 million of Proposition 40 bond funds are targeted for farmland conservation in the upcoming fiscal year.

CFCP funds are still available for new grant proposals. Landowners and trusts are encouraged to contact DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection for grant application information.  DOC also offers other land resource protection programs through the Williamson Act and Farmland Security Zones that provide financial incentives to keep land in agricultural use for periods of 10 and 20 years.