Some of you may remember my “Californians are in Denial” blog from a few days ago. Turns out I’m not the only one who was thinking along those lines this week. This news story ran in my newspaper today, which confirms a lot of what I was trying to say in my blog. Also, because I know more than half of you won’t click on the link I’m posting the first half of the story below.

Key quote: “A big part of rural economic success is having that rural diversity. … We’ve passed the point where people can afford to buy land to farm here.”

Fewer Farms for Seventh Straight Year
By Douglas Fischer/Media News Group

San Joaquin County Supervisor Steve Gutierrez has a fear:

That some day all the new tract homes and malls that have sprung up in the fertile bottomlands around Stockton and Tracy will be knocked down and the concrete hauled off to get to the prime soils underneath to feed the populace.

“People laugh at me when I say this,” he says.

But a new report released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests he has a point.

California, the nation’s leading farm state, lost 500 farms and 300,000 acres in 2005, much of that to urban development.

The closures represent less than 1 percent of the state’s remaining 76,500 farms and by themselves won’t make much of a dent in the $32 billion farmers pulled off the land in 2004, according to the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

But it represents the seventh straight year of decline in the number of California farms -10,500 in all – reported to the USDA.

That has farmers worried, particularly as they see no let-up in development pressure. State forecasts call for another 12 million Californians to arrive over the next 25 years – akin to the populations of Washington, Oregon and Nevada all settling here.

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