The Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan (Plan) is an innovative approach to agricultural preservation that will reduce future conversion of local farmland and the associated increase in greenhouse gas emissions while growing a vibrant local food economy that contributes to our quality of life.
Santa Clara County has a rich agricultural history and was once recognized as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” famous for its orchards and canneries. Many are not aware that the County still has 24,000 acres of farmland that generates 8,100 jobs and $830 million in economic output. However, in the past 30 years alone, the County lost 21,171 acres of farmland and rangeland to development and an additional 28,391 acres are currently at risk of being developed. If we lose more of our farmland, it would not only diminish our local food source, but also result in a loss of the iconic rural character of Santa Clara Valley, important jobs and farms central to our agricultural economy, and would generate significant greenhouse gas emissions.
To protect California’s irreplaceable croplands and rangelands, the State of California launched the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALCP) in 2015. The Plan is funded in part by SALCP which provides cap and trade funding to protect agricultural lands in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet California’s climate change goals. In partnership with the cities of San Jose, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy, the Authority and the County are mapping agricultural lands in Santa Clara Valley for conservation and identifying the regional greenhouse gas reduction potential.
The Plan was endorsed by the Authority's Board of Directors and adopted by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, who also voted to create an Agricultural Preservation Task Force. The Task Force will develop specific recommendations to implement the strategies presented in the Plan and to identify possible funding streams to support those strategies.