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Farming in an Urban County

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Agriculture is a major land use in North County, therefore special attention has been given to how to address farmland in the North County Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) Plan. The North County MSCP Plan area has nearly 9 times as many acres in agriculture as the South County MSCP Subarea Plan.

Just as the South County MSCP Subarea Plan streamlined the regulatory environment for landowners applying for land use permits, the County is trying in the North County MSCP Plan to streamline the regulatory environment for farmers while conserving habitat. The County of San Diego has been working with the San Diego County Farm Bureau to address conservation of habitat and farming. Farms, ranches and orchards can contain habitat value for local endangered or threatened species.

The County, in cooperation with the Farm Bureau, is developing a County-wide Farming Program. One of the components of the Farming Program will address how farming can help implement the North County MSCP Plan. Utilizing habitat values on farmlands in the North County can help the County achieve its conservation goals for certain threatened and endangered species, most notably the Arroyo toad and Stephens’ kangaroo rat.

The goals of the North County MSCP Plan relating to farming are to:

  1. Encourage conservation of farming within the Pre-Approved Mitigation Area;
  2. Recognize that existing agriculture often has habitat value that can contribute to regional conservation;
  3. Support and encourage continued farming in North County;
  4. Gain coverage for agricultural operations for the approximately 60 species covered under the North County MSCP Plan
  5. Reduce regulatory burdens on farmers in the North County MSCP Plan area.