The Bay Area Agricultural Plan Framework is a planning framework for multijurisdictional coordination and investment to make the Bay Area’s agricultural sector a foundation of regional resilience. It was developed through the engagement of a 7-member Advisory Council and 60-member Work Group from the agricultural community, local and regional government agencies, non-profit organizations, and conservation partners. This work, funded by the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC), recognizes that investing in agricultural lands while balancing climate-smart growth is an important part of California’s climate adaptation strategy. The Santa Clara County Department of Planning Development served as the project lead.
The Framework outlines four focus areas with 15 strategies to address equity and climate resilience for the region’s agriculture, covering the Bay Area’s nine counties and the counties of San Benito and Santa Cruz. The focus areas are:
- Agricultural Lands Conservation and Land Tenure
- Climate-Smart Agricultural Lands and Stewardship
- Agricultural Economy & Infrastructure
- Agricultural Sector Housing
To advance the strategies, the Framework sets out next steps to envision a new regional agricultural resilience partnership entity that would advance and help fund the implementation of the Framework. The entity would convene stakeholders around common issues, foster awareness and advocacy, solicit and disperse regional funding, and build the capacity of cities, counties and community stakeholders to act collectively.
Investing in and preserving the vitality of the San Francisco Bay Area’s agricultural lands and economy is critical to building long-term regional resilience. A healthy and equitable agricultural sector can store atmospheric carbon in soils and woody biomass and reduce potent greenhouse gas emissions while providing buffers to wildfires, extreme floods and heat while also protecting the well-being of farmworkers. A resilient regional agricultural sector is also a critical source of local food security while supporting the economic viability of the region’s farms and ranches and preserving local knowledge about the region’s unique agricultural resources. With the continued threat of agricultural land loss in the region due to incremental conversion to urban development and lack of investments in the agricultural sector, fundamental changes to regional planning policies along with more robust investment are needed to realize the climate and equity benefits of a healthy agricultural sector and ensure that generations to come can continue to reap these benefits.