Fast Facts

Did you know…

  • Farm and Grazing lands in California decreased by more than 1.4 million acres between 1984 and 2014.  This is larger than the size of Merced County.  This loss averages just under 50,000 acres per year, or about one square mile every four days.  
  • The type of farmland with the largest decrease has been Prime Farmland, the best soils for agricultural production.  Prime Farmland losses were just under 759,000 acres between 1984 and 2014, larger than the size of Yolo County. 
  • Urbanization accounts for the vast majority of this loss, more than 1.1 million acres over the 1984-2014 timeframe.  This is nearly the size of Sonoma County. 
  • Other major causes for farmland loss include low density rural residences, mining, and ecological restoration projects.  These totaled more than 315,000 acres between 1984 and 2014; nearly one quarter of the scale of urbanization. 
  • A more detailed statewide 1984 to 2014 conversion summary and component chart are available (XLS).


1984 - 2014 California Farmland Conversion Summary
 Total ChangeAnnual Average
Irrigated Farmland-1,135,989-37,866
Dryland Farming and Grazing Land -358,891-11,963
Urban and Built-up Land1,159,40538,647
Other Land 315,56910,519
Water (1)20,480683

 (1) Water increase primarily due to construction of Diamond Valley Reservoir, Lake Sonoma, Los Vaqueros Reservoir, Olivenhain Reservoir, flooding of Liberty Island, and reclamation of former gravel pits into permanent water bodies in Alameda County.