September 16, 2009

Contact: Don Drysdale
             Carrie Reinsimar
             (916) 323-1886

KING CITY – Two productive farms north of King City have been permanently preserved for agriculture by the Salinas-based Ag Land Trust and California Department of Conservation.

 “These newly created agricultural conservation easements are near existing easements, so they will further stabilize and solidify the agricultural character of the area,” DOC Director Bridgett Luther said. “Monterey County has exceptional farmland, and we hope that other local farmers and ranchers explore this option for their own property.”

The Turri and Gill ranches – adjacent but separately owned -- grow all the typical crops of the area, including lettuce, spinach and carrots. DOC, through the bond-funded California Farmland Conservancy Program (CFCP), expended $1,057,000 to ensure the properties will never be developed. The Gill Ranch is 159 acres; the Turri Ranch is 366 acres, 166 of which are now under an easement.

Working with the Ag Land Trust the CFCP has funded 34 agricultural conservation easements comprising 6,739 acres of farmland in Monterey County since 1998. Nearly all of the preserved land is rated as prime farmland. The cumulative appraised value of those easements is nearly $26 million, to which CFCP contributed $15,277,750 in acquisition grant funding.  The remainder has been contributed by private foundations, landowners, and other government programs. 

“We congratulate the landowners on their commitment to agriculture for the long haul,” said Brian Rianda of the Ag Land Trust. “We’re proud that our organization has protected more irrigated farmland and has been more effective in redirecting city growth towards less desirable farmland than any other agricultural land trust in California.”

Historically, King City has grown both to the north and south on prime farmland.  The group of agricultural easements that has been created in the area is designed to encourage growth toward the east, toward lesser-quality farmland.

“We have seen leapfrog development around protected farmland nearby in the communities of Gonzales and Soledad,” Rianda said. “We are trying to discourage that practice in the King City area.”

About the Department of Conservation’s California Farmland Conservancy Program: Begun in 1996, the CFCP has provided $65 million in funding to permanently shield 42,000 acres of the state’s best and most vulnerable agricultural land from development. CFCP funding is available for new grant proposals. Landowners and trusts are encouraged to contact the Division of Land Resource Protection for information about the program and potential funding. The state also offers programs -- the Williamson Act and Farmland Security Zones -- that provide financial incentives to keep land in agricultural use for periods of 10 and 20 years.

About the Ag Land Trust: Founded on August 1, 1984 the Ag Land Trust is a public benefit corporation created with the intent of preserving farmland and benefitting the farmers who make their living from that land. The Ag Land Trust has exceeded the milestone of 20,000 acres in recorded easements. Value of the annual agriculture productivity from these protected properties exceeds $200,000,000 per year.