During the development of the MSHCP, the role of agriculture was thoroughly considered. Normal agricultural operations have the potential to adversely affect both habitat and rare, endangered, and threatened species. As a result, it was important that the development of new rules under the MSHCP protect existing agricultural operations from being found out of compliance with the MSHCP and that an agreed amount of new agricultural land be able to enter production with coverage under the MSHCP.
The Riverside County Farm Bureau and County of Riverside entered into an agreement to insure the MSHCP would not adversely impact agriculture. Following issuance of the permits that enabled RCA’s work, RCA assumed the general implementation duties for the MSHCP, representing both Riverside County and the cities and working with the county and the Farm Bureau to clarify the relationship between Agriculture and the MSHCP.
An Agricultural Operations Database of existing agricultural operations has been prepared using various methods of reporting, including the Assessor’s Tax Roll, pesticide permits, and miscellaneous registrations required by the County Agricultural Commissioner (Commissioner), in addition to aerial photographs (if applicable). RCA is now the host of the database and the information is available plotted on maps in GIS format. Working cooperatively with the county, RCA ensures that the database is updated annually in accordance with the MSHCP.
During the first several years of the MSHCP, existing agricultural operations could voluntarily apply for a Certificate of Inclusion (COI) that identified them, including their location, thereby ensuring that existing agricultural operations were protected under the MSHCP. Issuance of COIs is no longer required. MSHCP member agencies instead submit to the RCA, on an annual basis, the approved agricultural grading permits that represent conversion of undeveloped land to agricultural uses, as well as additional or new agricultural activities on parcels that had already been in agricultural use.