2015 California Farmland Conversion Re​port

Irrigated farmland in California decreased by more than 91 square miles (58,587 acres) between 2010 and 2012. The highest-quality agricultural soils, known as Prime Farmland, comprised 81 percent of the loss.

Urban development, which totaled 29,342 acres, decreased by 34 percent compared with the 2010 update. The 2012 urban land increase was the lowest recorded in the program's history, reflecting impacts of the recent recession. Of the nearly 46 square miles of new Urban and Built-up Land in the state, 43 percent occurred in the Southern California region.

Land was removed from irrigated categories—to uses aside from urban—at a rate 41 percent lower than compared with the prior update (252,473 acres in 2010, and 149,577 acres in 2012). Land idling and reversion to dry farming were responsible for the majority of this type of conversion. The southern San Joaquin Valley and counties in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta were most impacted by land idling. Three counties had 10,000 or more acres of this conversion type: Fresno, Kern, and Kings.

​Countervailing the net loss of irrigated farmland in most counties, a few locations saw net increases in their irrigated farmland totals during the 2012 update. These were clustered in the northern San Joaquin Valley: Madera, Stanislaus, and Merced counties had irrigated land increases characterized by large plantings of orchards, and to a lesser extent vineyards and row crops.

During the 14 biennial reporting cycles since FMMP was established, more than 1.4 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 four days.



Complete Report (6.1 MB PDF)

Report split to facilitate download:

Main Report: Acknowledgements; Table of Contents; Executive Summary; Program Introduction; 2012 Improvements and Challenges; Land Use Conversion 2010-2012 (4.8 MB PDF)

Appendices: A, B, C, D, and E: County Conversion Tables*; 2010 and 2012 County Acreage Tallies; County and Regional Conversion Summaries; Rural Land Use Mapping Tables; Farmland of Local Importance Definitions (1.54 MB PDF)


Text Only Version

Please contact FMMP​ for additional assistance with data.

*Excel 2000 versions of the same tables are also available for download.