Projects that convert agricultural lands for urban uses (e.g., residential, commercial, industrial) can compromise an area's ability to support agriculture. Other projects may promote open-space benefits, such as flood management or wildlife habitat on agricultural land, but may limit or eliminate agricultural uses on those lands. For many years, governmental and other organizations have encouraged programs that promote the development of environmental benefits on agricultural land as a way to protect natural resources while keeping the land in agriculturally productive private ownership. More recently, attention has been focused on the social and economic impacts of taking agricultural land out of production.
The list of ALS Strategies was developed based on input from local landowners and others local interests on what they would like to see considered by project proponents for projects that will affect agricultural land. Not all of the ALS Strategies will apply to a specific project. In fact, some of the ALS Strategies may provide different approaches that are not compatible. DWR does not recommend any particular strategy and anticipates periodic updates to the Framework and ALS Strategy Tool Box.
Some of the ALS Strategies can be used by project proponents to work with local government and landowners to avoid or minimize impacts on agriculture and to consider local and regional plans. Some of the ALS Strategies provide options to consider for environmental mitigation required under the California Environmental Quality Act. Other ALS Strategies can assist in maintaining the agricultural viability and sustainability of the area where the project is located. Finally, some of the ALS Strategies discuss opportunities to keep local landowners and farmers on the land by participating in project activities, when a project involves conversion from agriculture to other open space uses.
ALS Planning is consistent with State and Delta regional policies and plans, including:
- California Agricultural Vision
- California Department of Food and Agriculture's Climate Change Consortium for Specialty Crops
- Draft Governor's Environmental Goals and Policies Report
- California Air Resources Board's Cap and Trade Auction Proceeds Investment Plan
- California Natural Resources Agency Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
- California Water Plan Update 2013
- Delta Stewardship Council's Delta Plan
- Delta Protection Commission's Economic Sustainability Plan
- Delta Conservancy's Strategic Plan.
The Framework and Toolbox of Strategies
The ALS Framework and Strategies encourage the exploration of a voluntary process that engages project proponents and other interested parties in pursuing mutually beneficial solutions that consider the following fundamental premises:
- provide the environmental and habitat benefits that are part of the project
- are consistent with state and regional polices
- provide opportunities for farmers to stay on the land
- maintain agricultural and economic viability in the area where the project is located
- support the stability of local governments and special districts
The strategies are organized in five categories:
- Strategies to help maintain agriculture
- Strategies that provide incentives for conservation on farmland
- Strategies to manage land to reverse subsidence and sequester carbon
- Strategies that support an agricultural economy
- Strategies for successful planning by project proponents
The discussion of each strategy covers its topics in the following order:
- Description of the strategy
- Related policies and programs
- Opportunities and potential partners
The strategies can be downloaded by going to https://AgriculturalLandStewardship.water.ca.gov.
Reviewers can also complete a Feedback Form on line. Comments received will be considered in subsequent versions of the strategies and will be treated as public records. Requests to meet to discuss issues raised by the paper should be sent to DWRAgriculturalStewardshipInfo@water.ca.gov.
For more on Draft BDCP EIR/EIS (2013) discussion of mitigation of BDCP impacts on agricultural resources, see http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/Libraries/Dynamic_Document_Library/Public_Draft_BDCP_EIR-EIS_Chapter_14_-_Agricultural_Resources.sflb.ashx.
ALS Workgroup: ALS Framework and Strategies: Overview: 061014