Date of Award
MS in Agribusiness
The goal of this research was to analyze the economic impact of the Williamson Act and the agricultural industry in San Luis Obispo County, and to assess the changes in agriculture and the County’s economic structure if a significant proportion of Williamson Act contracts were not renewed. Williamson Act enrollment and agriculture data were analyzed on a zip code level using IMPLAN v. 3.0, an input-output modeling program.
The first round of analysis assessed the baseline economic impact of the agriculture industry in San Luis Obispo County. Then, four regions of the county were established based on Williamson Act enrollment and similarities in agricultural production to provide a more accurate reflection of the potential changes to the local economy. The results were reflected in changes to direct sales, total sales, total income, total value added and number of jobs lost.
The study concluded that removing the Act’s funding would have very little impact on land use in the county because of the strict agricultural zoning, but may affect the financial strength of agriculture operations depending on their reliance on the tax incentive. Although this study predicts minor decreases in agricultural output if the Williamson Act was removed, the anticipated economic impacts of the lost output are far greater than the costs to maintain the funding for the Act. The direct cost of the Williamson Act to San Luis Obispo County is roughly $3 million per year, yet if the Act is eliminated, it is estimated $14 to $39 million will be lost in county-wide agricultural output.