California Farmland Trust has bought the development rights for 16,000 acres of farmland in the Central Valley and Northern California, almost 70 farms in all.
Associate Director Melanee Cottrill said the goal is to keep the land in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Stanislaus, Madera and Merced counties from being developed for housing or any other use.
“Every year, we lose estimated between 40- to 50,000 acres of farmland,” she said. “And primarily that’s because people want to live here. The same things that make this a great region for growing also makes it a great place for living.”
Cottrill said the younger generation in California is not as willing to maintain family farms.
“But their family really wants to preserve the land for agriculture, so we are seeing an increased demand for farm protection,” she said.
Cottrill said the farm owners are paid for their land rights, but still own the property. Farmers may be land rich but cash poor, so payments for development rights can be used for costly expenses, such as a new tractor.
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