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Changes In Williamson Act Penalties

Violations of a key farm-land law will bring increased penalties under newly signed legislation.

The California Farm Bureau´s John Gamper says new measure will increase penalties should landowners not follow proper procedures in converting protected farmland to non-agricultural uses.

“It will provide a significant deterrent for those who ignore the contract because the new penalty with be 25 percent of the value oif the land,” Gamper said.

The farmland law known as the Williamson Act, provides farmers with tax incentives to maintain land in agricultural production.

But he says, land can be removed from the Williamson Act. “There is two ways of removing land from a Williamson Act contract,” Gamper said. “First is non-renewal, which generally takes about nine years. The other is cancellation , which can be immediate, as long as there is a set of findings that can be made by the county and the landowner is willing to pay 12 1/2 percent penalty of the current market value of the land.