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Williamson Act expected to entice more farmers

February 13, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors heard a report at its meeting Tuesday on how much money the 1965 Williamson Act is bringing to the county and saving local farmers.

Local farmers have used the Williamson Act for the past two years to put idle farmland into conservancy, which lowers the amount of property tax the farmers pay.

Former local Farm Bureau Executive Director Lauren Grizzle estimated last fall the program has brought nearly $1 million to local farmers.

County Planning and Building Director Jurg Heuberger said the program also brought $500,016 to county government.

The act also helps the county attract farmers to the area, especially dairies, Imperial County Farm Bureau Executive Director Steve Pastor said.

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"Without the Williamson Act, I don't think we would have a new dairy moving in," Pastor said, referring to the Bull Frog Dairy.

Farmland in the program is assessed at conservation value, not potential value, Heuberger said.

The county has 314 contracts, overseen by the California Department of Conservation, with 100,000 of 420,000 acres of farmland in the program as of Jan. 1, Heuberger said.

Pastor said he thinks the program will grow.

"Farmers generally are conservative. Once they see how much this will save them, more and more of them will sign up," Pastor said.

Also at the meeting, the supervisors:

· as the Air Pollution Control District board, appointed Sergio Cabanas to the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District hearing board;

· approved county road projects;

· approved Health Department contracts with Alison Marshall for clinical technician tests and Holly Maag, Esq. for laboratory management.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or lauramitchell9@yahoo.com

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