Agricultural Land Management Resources

Administrative Relief from Agricultural Setbacks

When the Planning Department determines that agricultural setbacks pursuant to El Dorado County Ordinance Code Section 17.06.150, Special Setbacks for Agricultural Protection, apply to a parcel, the property owner may apply for administrative relief from the setback through the El Dorado County Agricultural Commission.

Submittal of the completed application and the non-refundable application fee of $350.00 (payable to EDC Dept. of Ag) should be sent to the El Dorado County Department of Development Services, 2850 Fairlane Court, Building "C", Placerville, CA 95667. A planner will be assigned, and the application will be analyzed for possible administrative relief.

Ag Districts

The purpose of the Agricultural District (-A) overlay designation is to identify the general areas which contain the majority of the County’s federally designated prime, State designated unique or important, or County designated locally important soils (collectively referred to as “choice” agricultural soils) and which the Board of Supervisors has determined should be preserved primarily for agricultural uses.

Agricultural Grading

The 2004 El Dorado County General Plan, Policy, requires agricultural grading activities that convert one acre or more of undisturbed vegetation to agricultural cropland, to apply for an Agricultural Grading Permit through the El Dorado County Agricultural Commissioner’s office. At this time, there is no cost associated with the application.

All agricultural practices, including fuel reduction and fire protection, that do not change the natural contour of the land and that use “best management practices” (BMPs) may be exempt from obtaining an Agricultural Grading Permit. Anyone converting over an acre of natural vegetation, to agricultural cropland, is encouraged to fill out an Agricultural Grading Application, to help ensure BMP's are followed and the landowner and neighbors are protected.

Livestock Grazing

image of cows in a field

Local ranchers are collaborating with the El Dorado County Agriculture Department, NRCS and UCCE to provide education about the benefits of grazing livestock to reduce vegetation that can become fuel for wildfires. Livestock grazing has a long history in our county, and we would like to bring grazing back to the forefront as a tool to reduce fuel loads in our rural areas. Recent studies show that properly managed livestock grazing is an environmentally sound way to manage lands and maintain defensible space from wildfires. Federal, state, and local organizations are recognizing these benefits and promoting livestock grazing in rural areas. An educational webinar is available online here.

Here are some things to consider when deciding to graze livestock on your property:

  •  Is there a water source available? Pond, creek, or piped water source. 
  • Are there grasses on a portion of the land? 
  • Is the land fenced or are you willing to fence it? 
  • Do you have several acres to maintain? Sometimes coordinating with neighbors works out for a rancher to rotate the livestock.

If you think that livestock grazing might work for your property and to be connected with a local rancher, call the El Dorado County Agriculture Department’s grazing information phone line: 530-621-7498.

Resources & Information 


Real Estate Information

The following two documents are important pieces of information for all real estate transactions on properties adjacent to agriculturally zoned lands. For further information, see Right to Farm Ordinance below.

Right to Farm Ordinance

El Dorado County has declared that it wishes to conserve, protect, and encourage agricultural operations within the county. However, when residential development occurs next to areas of agricultural land, agricultural operations sometimes become the subject of nuisance complaints. The County has adopted a Right to Farm Ordinance to define and limit cases in which agricultural operations may be considered a nuisance. It includes a disclosure notice to prospective property buyers that notifies them that if the property they are purchasing is in the vicinity of agricultural land, they may be subjected to certain inconveniences associated with normal agricultural operations and that special agricultural setbacks may be required on the property.


Williamson Act Contract Information

The California Land Conservation Act of 1965, also known as the Williamson Act, was created to reduce increasing property taxes on agricultural land.  When the Act was adopted, rising property taxes were making it difficult for farmers and ranchers to stay on their land.  Under the Williamson Act, the owner of agricultural land may enter into a contract with the County if the landowner agrees to restrict the use of the land to the production of commercial crops or the raising and grazing of livestock for a term of not less than 10 years.  The term of the contract is automatically extended each year unless the landowner or the County serves a notice of nonrenewal.  The law also requires the County to establish an agricultural preserve (i.e. Exclusive Agricultural zoning) and base the property tax assessment on the land's ability to produce an agricultural income.

Agricultural Preserves (Zoning Criteria)

All lands subject to a Williamson Act or Farmland Security Contract are zoned "AE" (Exclusive Agricultural) or "AP" (Agricultural Preserve).  Certain restrictions apply to these zones that do not normally apply to other agricultural zone districts in the County.  The purpose of the AE and AP zones are to implement the California Land Conservation Act of 1965, and to encourage the sustainable use of farmland in the County for agricultural production.

Residential Use

El Dorado County Code Section 17.36.070 (D) restricts the residential use of land in an agricultural preserve to one dwelling unit per contract.  This applies even if the preserve consists of multiple parcels and multiple property owners.

More Information: