The County of Monterey assists in maintaining the agricultural economy of California by establishing agricultural preserves and creating farmland security zones. The Agricultural Preservation Review Committee is responsible for reviewing applications for agricultural preserves and farmland security zones; the Committee consists of representatives from the Assessors Office, County Counsel Office, Agricultural Commissioner, and the Planning Department.
Agricultural preserves and farmland security zones differ in both their eligibility requirements and property tax calculations. Farmland security zones are often referred to as the “Super Williamson Act” because landowners receive an additional tax benefit and unlike agricultural preserves, farmland security zone contracts require the property be predominantly prime agricultural land as defined in Government Code Section 51201 (c), or designated on the Important Farmland Series Maps, prepared pursuant to Government Code Section 65570, as predominantly one or more of the following: (1) prime farmland; (2) farmland of statewide significance; (3) unique farmland; (4) farmland of local importance. Important Farmland Series Maps are available at: http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dlrp/fmmp/Pages/Index.aspx
Qualifications for Agricultural Preserves and Farmland Security Zone Contracts:
- 100 or more acres. Areas of less than 100 acres, but 40 or more acres, may be eligible if necessary to preserve the unique characteristics of the agricultural enterprise.
- Land must have a recent history of being used primarily for the production of food or fiber for three of the last five years.
- Generate at least $8,000 of annual gross income during three of the last five years from production of animals and/or unprocessed agricultural plant products. Recently improved lands must have the potential of a gross $8,000 income the next succeeding year.
- Must be consistent with the County General Plan.
- If the property is within one mile of a city, that city has not protested or will not protest the preserve or contract.
- The property is zoned an appropriate agricultural designation, or that the proper reclassification be requested at the time the contract is applied for.
- Additional qualifications and procedures can be found in the Monterey County Board of Supervisors Resolutions No. 03-383 and No. 01-486.
Farmland Security Zones
Farmland security zones offer landowners greater property tax reduction than agricultural preserves. Land restricted by a farmland security zone contract is valued for property assessment purposes at 65% of its Williamson Act valuation, or 65% of its Proposition 13 valuation, whichever is lower. Farmland security zone contracts, however, require that the property is predominantly prime agricultural land, as discussed above.