Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan: Investing in our Working Lands for Regional Resilience


Cornfields on a gloomy day

The Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan [Valley Agricultural Plan] is a regional effort led by the County of Santa Clara and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (OSA) to conserve Santa Clara Valley’s farmland and ranchland as an innovative climate change mitigation and economic development strategy. Funded in part by cap and trade revenues through the state’s Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALCP), the Valley Agricultural Plan will help avoid future greenhouse gas emissions by reducing conversion of working lands and focusing development in existing urban areas. By linking State and regional efforts with those of the County, cities, special districts and the agricultural community, the Valley Agricultural Plan will help to reach California’s climate goals while providing for a more sustainable agricultural future for the County.



Assemble Project TeamAdvisors' Groups, and Technical Panels
(January – April 2016) - complete

Pha​se 1:

Mapping and Policy Analysis (May – November 2016) - complete

Pha​se 2:

Prepare Draft Agricultural Framework (by February 2017) - complete

Pha​se 3:

Prepare Final Agricultural Framework (by September 2017) - complete

The Valley Agric​ultural Plan was adopted by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors on January 9, 2018:

Valley Agricultural Plan and related Appendix


Cherry orchards blossoming

Santa Clara County has a rich agricultural history and was once recognized as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” famous for its orchards and canneries. Today it is better recognized as Silicon Valley and is the fastest growing County in California and the most populous in the Bay Area. In the past 30 years alone, Santa Clara County has lost 21,171 acres of its farmland and rangeland to development, and an additional 28,391 acres of farmland and rangeland in the County are at risk of conversion going forward. Despite this, Santa Clara Valley retains valuable agricultural lands and an important farming industry, with over 1,000 farms and total economic production value of $1.6 billion dollars.


Mission of the Valley Agricultural Plan is to shift the planning paradigm and create a comprehensive regional framework in order to preserve the remaining working lands and support a vibrant agricultural economy while mitigating climate change. The Plan has been developed at a pivotal time in the County’s history. In addition to State-level leadership on climate change, there is a robust network of partners emerging across the County and region in business, government and community sectors who are re-envisioning outdated patterns of growth and are committed to protecting working lands and catalyzing the agricultural economy. Designed to be implemented by 2030 to align with the State’s SB 32 Climate Goals, the Valley Agricultural Plan seeks to implement the following three key goals to advance agricultural land conservation within the Santa Clara Valley:

  1. Keeping Santa Clara Valley Working Lands at Work;
  2. Honoring the Importance of Agriculture to Santa Clara Valley; and
  3. Crafting a Unified Regional Land Use Policy Framework for the Future.




Valley Agricultural Plan identifies “Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Resource Area” as the farmland and ranchland base where efforts are to be focused. The Plan is organized around four key Focus Areas. Each of the Focus Areas is interrelated and critical to building a robust agricultural economy in Santa Clara County.

Land Use Policy: Preventing the Conversion of Working Lands

Regional Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and other Voluntary Financial Incentives: Providing Financial Support for Resilient Agricultural Practices, Ecosystem Services and Rural Community Investment

Agricultural Economic Development Strategy: Making the Case for Investment in Santa Clara County’s Agricultural Economy

Branding, Education and Awareness Strategy: Communicating the Value of Working Landscapes in Santa Clara Valley and Their Connection to Ecological and Economic Resilience.

SCV Diagram


To learn more and/or participate in this innovative regional effort to protect Santa Clara County’s irreplaceable agricultural lands please contact  Leza Mikhail, Santa Clara County Planning Manager at (408)299-5773.


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