Assembly Bill 2530 by Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), which protects and strengthens the Williamson Act, passed unanimously out of the Senate Local Government Committee today. The Williamson Act, originally passed 45 years ago, has been decimated due to budgetary constraints. Last year, the Governor cut $20 million out of the budget, but acknowledged value of the Act and a desire to restore funding as possible. AB 2530 would allow counties to voluntarily implement new land preservation contracts that are ten percent shorter in return for a ten percent reduction in the landowner's property tax relief.
"Agriculture is essential to California's economy. The need to save a program as vital as the Williamson Act is imperative. Not only would the bill's passage save it but it would preserve California's most precious commodity: our food supply," asserted Assemblyman Nielsen. "As a former farmer and rancher, agriculture is near and dear to me and I'm extremely pleased with Senate Local Government Committee's support of AB 2530."
"The passage of AB 2530 this afternoon by the Senate Local Government Committee was a very significant step forward in our efforts to save the Williamson Act," said Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. "The conservation of farmland through the Williamson Act benefits everyone, through the production of food and farm products, and through the conservation of open space and habitat for plants and animals."
Counties will have certainty in subvention funding, if they choose to take advantage of this legislation. Property owners also have knowledge that there is little reason for boards of supervisors to non-renew their Williamson Act contracts in their respective county and must encourage their supervisors to take advantage of this solution.