Laws and Policy

The Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP) is required by statute to collect and acquire information on the amount of land converted to or from agricultural use, to maintain the Important Farmland Series maps, and also to maintain an automated map and data base system (GIS). FMMP is funded through the Soil Conservation Fund which receives revenue from Land Conservation Act (Williamson Act) contract cancellation fees.

FMMP is used by both CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and the Right to Farm disclosure law as the official source for agricultural land data. The Farmland Security Zone Contracts that are administered under the Land Conservation Act only apply to land that is designated on FMMP Important Farmland Maps to be certain categories of agricultural land. Newer legislation governing the development of an Agricultural Land Element in city or county general plans requires the usage of FMMP designations for identification and mapping of agricultural lands, where applicable. 

Statutory Summary:

Business and Professions Code Section 11010Requires Right to Farm disclosure on property for sale or lease within one mile of agricultural land, as mapped by FMMP.
Civil Code Section 1103.4Provides that certain experts, such as a licensed engineer, land surveyor, geologist, or natural hazard discovery expert, have the responsibility of using the latest Important Farmland Maps on the FMMP website to determine Right to Farm disclosure status.
Government Code Section 51191Provides that the Department of Conservation may determine that a parcel can be eligible for placement into a solar-use easement if certain criteria are met, including that the parcel is not located on lands designated as prime farmland, unique farmland, or farmland of statewide importance, as shown on the maps prepared pursuant to the Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program, unless other criteria are met.
Government Code Section 51283(d)Provides for deposition of moneys into the Soil Conservation Fund, and when appropriated, for the "cost of the farmlands mapping and monitoring program of the Department of Conservation..." and for other specified purposes.
Government Code Section 51296.8Provides that Farmland Security Zone contracts "shall only apply to land that is designated on the Important Farmland Series maps…" as predominantly one or more of specified agricultural land categories.
Government Code Section 65560Defines "Important Farmland Series maps" as the maps "updated and modified by the department's Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program…" and other definitions relevant to FMMP.
Government Code Section 65565Requires that if a city or county chooses to develop an agricultural land component of the open-space element or an agricultural land element of a general plan, it shall utilize the designations of FMMP to identify and map, where applicable, agricultural lands within the city's or county's jurisdiction. Also, it shall include specific acreage breakdowns by FMMP classifications.
Government Code Section 65570

Requires the Department of Conservation to collect or acquire information on the amount of land converted to or from agricultural use for every mapped county and to report this information to the Legislature. This report is due biennially (every two years) on or before December 31 of every even-numbered year.

The Department shares changes to Maps with counties, which have 90 days to request corrections of discrepancies or errors in the classification of agricultural lands on the maps.  The Department makes corrections of discrepancies or errors requested by counties, as required by statute (see Gov. Code, ​§ 65570, subd. (c)).​  Corrections need to be supported with evidence of land use or irrigation status.​​

Provides that the Department of Conservation may acquire supplemental information from new soil surveys and establish comparable baseline data for counties not included in the original 1984 mapping. The Department is required to report on this data.

Provides that the Department of Conservation may prepare Interim Farmland maps for areas of the state without modern soil surveys.

The purpose of the maps is limited to the preparation of an inventory of agricultural lands, as well as land already committed to future urban or other nonagricultural purposes.

Government Code Section 65913.4 (6)(B)Allows for a streamlined, ministerial approval process for a housing development that satisfies certain planning standards, including that it is not located on a site that is either Prime Farmland or Farmland of Statewide Importance as mapped by FMMP or has other agricultural protections.
Public Resources Code Section 612

Requires the Department to prepare, update, and maintain Important Farmland Series maps and other soils and land capability information.

Requires the Department to prepare and maintain an automated map and data base system (GIS) to record and report changes in the use of agricultural lands.

Public Resources Code Section 10213Defines "agricultural land" for the California Farmland Conservancy Program act (CFCP), as the FMMP Important Farmland map categories, where applicable.
Public Resources Code Section 10252 (a)A proposal for a fee title or agricultural conservation easement acquisition grant (CFCP) shall be evaluated using specified selection criteria, including the quality of the agricultural land, based on land capability, farmland mapping and monitoring program definitions, productivity indices, and other soil, climate, and vegetative factors.
Public Resources Code Section 21060.1 
(California Environmental Quality Act; CEQA)
Defines "agricultural land", for the purposes of assessing CEQA environmental impacts, as the FMMP Important Farmland Series map categories, where applicable.