The County of San Diego and the incorporated cities are very active in habitat preservation as they attempt to comply with state and federal Endangered Species Act regulations while providing for the orderly development of land. As the only industry dependent on large tracts of undeveloped land, agriculture can get caught in the vice between the regulations and the regulators.
The issues that Farm Bureau is keeping in front of policy makers when habitat regulations are created come down to five major areas:
- Reasonable regulations that allow for the expansion of agriculture production and the establishment of new farms.
- No restrictions for ongoing farm activities.
- Protection for the farmer when endangered or listed species move onto agricultural land.
- Allowance for conversion from one agricultural crop to another.
- Incentives for farmers who voluntarily choose to attract and preserve habitat and species on their land.
Several habitat plans have already been adopted in the county. Growers in those areas may want to check with their local planning agency to see what impacts there may be on agricultural expansion. The next plan to be adopted that will affect agriculture will be the County’s North County Subarea Plan of the Multiple Species Conservation Plan. The plan’s implementation schedule calls for public review of the Environmental Impact Report in late 2008 followed by a series of public hearings culminating in consideration by the Board of Supervisors to adopt the plan in late 2009. Also under development is the East County Subarea Plan of the MSCP. Public review of that plan is scheduled for 2010. Farm Bureau is heavily engaged in both the North County and East County processes. More information about these habitat planning projects is available by going to www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu and clicking on “Multiple Species Conservation Program.”