Fast Facts

​Did you know…

  • Farm and Grazing lands in California decreased by more than 1.6 million acres between 1984 and 2018.  This is larger than the size of Ventura County.  This loss averages just over 47,000 acres per year, or about one square mile every five days.  
  • The type of farmland with the largest decrease has been Prime Farmland, the best soils for agricultural production.  Prime Farmland losses were just over 816,000 acres between 1984 and 2018​​​, larger than the size of Colusa County. 
  • Urbanization accounts for the vast majority of this loss, more than 1.2 million acres over the 1984-2018 timeframe.  This is nearly the size of Butte County. 
  • Other major causes for farmland loss include low density rural residences, mining, and ecological restoration projects.  These totaled more than 351,000 acres between 1984 and 2018; nearly one quarter of the scale of urbanization. 
  • A more detailed Statewide 1984 to 2018 Conversion Summary and component chart are available.


1984 - 2018 California Farmland Conversion Summary
 Land Use Category
Total Change (acres)
Annual Average Acreage Change
 Prime Farmland
Irrigated Farmland Subtotal
Dryland Farming and Grazing Land 
Agricultural Land Subtotal
Urban and Built-up Land
Other Land 
Water (1)

 (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.