Hero Image

Central Valley Farmland Trust

The Issue

Prime farmland is disappearing at an alarming rate all across the nation and the problem is especially acute in the San Joaquin Valley. Farmers and local governments need more effective tools for preserving prime farmland. Agricultural Conservation Easements (ACE) allow land owners to preserve working farms and also accomplish long-term estate-planning objectives. A farmland trust is needed to facilitate these projects and to hold the resulting easements.

What Has ANR Done?

UCCE in Merced County has worked with interested agriculturalists to establish and grow the Central Valley Farmland Trust (CVFT). Farm advisor Maxwell Norton provided technical assistance in policy development, capacity building and building organizational strength. Recently serving as its president, he was part of the team that developed the policies and procedures. Norton has also given lectures to groups in other agricultural areas of the state who are interested in developing farmland trusts to serve their regions. He provides technical assistance to groups and agencies on land use issues and impacts on production agriculture.

The Payoff

Preserving family farms

As of June 2010 the CVFT has completed 15 ACE and has protected 2,745 acres of working farm and ranch land in the northern San Joaquin Valley. Projects are pending that will protect additional high-value lands. All of the existing farms are are in production today and monitored regularly by volunteers and staff members to assure the objectives of the ACE are being met. The large number of inquiries and applications is indicative of the big demand by property owners for the opportunity to to complete ACE. Funding for them has been difficult to obtain, so the waiting list is long. The CVFT is working with other jurisdictions to help them develop similar programs. In 2008, the CVFT was awarded accreditation by the National Land Trust Alliance, one of only a few land trusts in the state to be so honored.

Clientele Testimonial

Maxwell has utilized his technical expertise and passion for farmland protection to develop CVFT into the preeminent farmland trust in California's Central Valley. - Tim Byrd, E. & J. Gallo Winery


Supporting Unit:

Merced County
Maxwell Norton,(209) 385-7403, mnorton@ucdavis.edu