2012-2014 Farmland Conversion Report

Sunflowers in San Benito County.


2012-2014 California Farmland Conversion Report

Irrigated farmland in California decreased by more than 78 square miles (50,218 net acres) between 2012 and 2014. The highest-quality farmland, known as Prime Farmland, decreased by 49,276 net acres, coupled with a Farmland of Statewide Importance decrease of 28,229 net acres. Partially offsetting these losses was the addition of 27,287 net acres of irrigated crops on lesser quality soils, mapped as Unique Farmland.

Urban development, which totaled 45,329 acres, increased by 54 percent compared with the 2010-12 update. While significantly higher than last update, the 2012-14 urban land increase was the third lowest recorded in the program's history. Nearly 49 percent of statewide urbanization occurred in Southern California.

Energy and water infrastructure greatly contributed to urban development between 2012 and 2014, primarily in the form of solar facilities and groundwater recharge or water control ponds. Solar facility construction contributed almost 20,000 acres of urbanization.

Land was removed from irrigated categories—to uses aside from urban—at a rate 3 percent higher than compared with the prior update (149,577 acres in 2012 and 153,766 acres in 2014). Land idling, where irrigated land was converted to nonirrigated land due to a lack of irrigation over time or conversion to dry farming, was responsible for 90 percent of this type of conversion. The southern San Joaquin Valley was most impacted by land idling. Three counties had 10,000 or more acres of this conversion type: Fresno, Kern, and Kings.

Conversions to irrigated categories totaled 119,152 acres between 2012 and 2014, an increase of 21 percent from the prior cycle. Eight counties had irrigated land expansions greater than 5,000 acres, which included all the San Joaquin Valley counties except Kings as well as San Luis Obispo County. Many of the San Joaquin Valley additions were orchards added in the valley and along the Sierra Nevada foothills while vineyards were added in San Luis Obispo County.

During the 15 biennial reporting cycles since FMMP was established, nearly 1.5 million acres of agricultural land in California were converted to nonagricultural purposes.  This represents an area larger in size than Merced County, or a rate of nearly one square mile every five days.

Report split to facilitate download:

Each file name below redirects to an email request form so files may be sent directly instead of downloaded.​

Main Report​: Acknowledgements; Executive Summary; Table of Contents; Program Introduction; 2012-2014 Improvements; Understanding the Data; Land Use Conversion 2012-2014

​​Appendix A: County Conversion Tables

Appendices B, C, and D: 2012 and 2014 County Acreage Tallies; County and Regional Conversion Summaries; Rural Land Use Mapping Summaries 

Appendix E: Farmland of Local Importance Definitions 

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