Photo Brian Baer

You Are Not Alone

New Study Finds Strong Feelings for Farmland

Melanee Cottrill

A recent public opinion poll revealed an overwhelming preference for farmland preservation over development in the Capital Region. 

The scientific survey, conducted by Valley Vision and California State University, Sacramento across eight Capital Region counties, asked respondents about environmental issues. The purpose was to “reveal how people in California’s Capital Region prioritize our natural environment and the policies and protections now in place.”  Among the questions asked was:

If you had to choose between the following land use options in your part of California, which do you feel is more important: farmland, open space, wild space, housing, or retail and office?

When choosing between farmland and housing, 84% of respondents felt farmland is more important than housing.  And the numbers went up from there; 89% of respondents felt farmland is more important than retail and office space.  Even better, respondents ranked protecting farmland from conversion more important than protecting open space and wild space from the same threats.  Yes, you read that right – survey respondents felt farmland is more important than open or wild spaces. 

What do these survey results mean for you?  Or for me? For those of us who give our time and money to save farmland?  It appears that we aren’t as alone as we may have felt.  Nearly all survey respondents “feel strongly about preserving farmland in the region.”  We seem to have more friends of farmland in our midst than we may have imagined. 

Of course, these strong feelings don’t mean our work is done.  Far from it.  People may say they feel strongly, but feelings don’t help unless they inspire action.  Nearly one-fifth of survey respondents indicated they did not know how to help; we have an opportunity to close that gap and gain their support for farmland conservation.

Fellow friends of farmland, keep spreading the word to close the gap – you probably know more than one potential farmland champion.  Survey says that if you forward this message to five people, they all value farmland but at least one of them doesn’t know what to do about it.  Only you can prevent farmland conversion – spread the word and close the gap. 

The full survey report is available from Valley Vision.