Save the Williamson Act, Save the World
Well almost. You might have thought it was the end of the world if you were in the Capitol today and saw the Sierra Club, Counties and the Farm Bureau walking hand in hand advocating together as a coalition. It wasn’t the end of the world; it was the Williamson Act that brought these groups together.
With the release of the May Revise around the corner, county supervisors Steve Worthley from Tulare County and Kim Vann from Colusa County teamed up with representatives from the Farm Bureau, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club and others to show members of the Legislature just what a valuable program the Williamson Act is to all Californians.
The reason for the outcry is the lack of funding for a second consecutive year for subvention payments to local governments for the property tax losses they incur by enrolling agricultural land in Williamson Act contracts. Funded at just $1,000 in the Governor’s January 2010 budget, supporters of the act – including the California State Association of Counties and the Regional Council of Rural Counties — hope to restore the program back to its original $38 million.
The Williamson Act enjoys such broad-based support because it’s one of the most cost-effective land conservation programs in California, totaling less than 0.03% of the State’s general fund while helping to preserve 16 million ACRES of farmland and open space and promoting effective land-use planning and environmental protection. It’s not often that these goals can be accomplished through one $38 million program. And, that’s worth fighting for.
More information about the Williamson Act, including advocacy materials, can be found at: http://www.csac.counties.org/default.asp?id=273