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Cornell Real Estate Review

Abstract

California has long tried to preserve land devoted to agricultural production. Recently it became the leader in creating a statewide policy to reduce greenhouse gases. The State’s policy choices regarding farmland preservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are interrelated. California’s environmental and agricultural stakeholders point to the presence of three farmland conservation programs (and other programs and multiple policies throughout different codes) as encouraging the retention of agricultural land and thus resulting in less urban sprawl, less vehicle miles travelled, and less green house gases generated in the state. The purpose of this paper is to examine this claim and to tender an opinion on its validity. Offered also are suggestions on how to tie together better the dual goals of farmland preservation and greenhouse gas reduction in California.

*The California Department of Conservation commissioned the production of this paper. The opinions expressed here are only my own and in no way represent the opinions of the California Department of Conservation. Al Sokolow, Larelle Burkham-Greydanus, Peter Detwiler, Fielding Greaves, Brian Leahy, Scott Limpach, and Charles Tyson offered helpful comments on an earlier draft. Any errors that remain are my own. This is a condensed version of Wassmer (2009).

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