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Planning Commission recommends Farming Program Plan

The county’s Planning Commission has recommended that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors accept and implement the San Diego County Farming Program Plan, which is designed to guide the county in meeting needs and addressing issues of local farmers.

The Planning Commission voted 6-0 December 19, with Bryan Woods absent, to recommend approval of the plan.

“We’d like to see this move forward,” said San Diego County Farm Bureau executive director Eric Larson. “We’re really glad the County’s doing this. The farmers are facing a lot of problems right now.”

Those problems include water issues, the economic downturn, and insect infestations.

“It’s kind of refreshing to see, at least in one area on the county side, that someone wants to see farming succeed here,” Larson said.

“There’s definitely an attitude,” Larson said. “Where they can, they’re attempting to be helpful.”

Part of the Farming Program Plan includes a one-step process for necessary permits, and the concept of a single location with Federal, state, and local agencies would also help farmers seeking resources and technical assistance.

The plan’s components include the implementation of the 2007 Farm Bill, regulatory assistance, agricultural industry development, and purchase of agricultural conservation easements.

The Farming Program Plan was developed by various County of San Diego departments and the American Farmland Trust in conjunction with the Farm Bureau and other stakeholders.

The outreach began in October 2005 with listening sessions in Fallbrook, Ramona, and Valley Center at which the American Farmland Trust gathered input and prioritized the most pressing issues.

Four core working group meetings focused on major issues which emerged from the listening sessions, specifically the cost of doing business, land use and availability, and education and promotion of agriculture.

A focus group meeting with local farmers was held to review and discuss a draft plan, which was then circulated to the general public.

Elements of the plan include the establishment of an agricultural industry development program which would supply expertise and resources.

The program would provide farm leadership and create opportunities for young farmers.

The plan also proposes the development of a Farm and Rural Issues training program for elected officials, staff, and community leaders which would provide information about how policy decisions impact local agriculture.

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