Right to Farm
Monterey County is a Right to Farm county, with an ordinance enacted in 1993 to protect routine and on-going farming activities from nuisance lawsuits. The County's General Plan update, passed in October 2010, ensures protections for farming activities and encourages the Agricutlural element of Monterey County. A revised Right to Farm ordinance was approved by the Ag Advisory Committee and then adopted by the Board of Supervisors on October 28th, 2014.
The revised ordinance includes provisions for notification to purchasers of real estate during escrow transactions, notification when building permits are issued, notices posted in general circulation newspapers twice annually, and distribution of Right to Farm information through County agencies and local Ag organizations.
Agriculture consisting of crop farming and livestock grazing is the largest industry in the County and contributes approximately $8.7 billion to the local economy. Out of approximately 1.3 million acres of County land dedicated to farming and ranching, most of this area (around 80%) is used for grazing. The most productive and lucrative farmlands in the County are located in the North County, Blanco, and Central Salinas Valley areas.
The California Department of Conservation manages the Sate of California Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP), which evalutates productive agricultural lands throughout the State. It also oversees the Williamson Act Program (CA Land Conservation Act of 1965), which is designed to keep agricultural lands in production thorugh the creation of Agricultural Preserve and Farmland Security Zone long-term contracts, in return for reduced property taxes. Approximately 750,000 acres of County land are under Williamson Act contract with 32,000 acres under the Farmland Security Zone.
Monterey County also has the Agricultural and Historical Land Conservancy, Incorporated, which was created in 1984 by Monterey County residents; this is currently referred to as the Ag Land Trust. The Ag Land Trust accepts agricultural conservation easements by gift or as result of direct purchase from landowners to serve as a flexible resource protection tool. More than 22,000 acres are currently protected under the Ag Land Trust.
The Agricultural Element of the County General Plan establishes policies directed at enhancing and supporting long-term productivity and commercial viability of the County's agricultural industry. The purpose of this Element is to:
- Identify ways in which agricultural uses are addressed differently than other land use policies in the General Plan
- Establish exemptions for routine agricultural activities
- Include measures designed to protect agriculture operations, including buffers and compatible uses, to help strengthen the County's Right to Farm ordinance
Currently, within the Right to Farm ordinance there is a dispute resolution process administered by the office of the Agricultural Commissioner, should an issue arise between neighbors over routine farming activities.