• Small Ag Processing

Small-Scale Agricultural Processing

Some farmers are finding that profit from selling their produce and processed agricultural products wholesale is not sufficient to ensure the long-term economic viability of their agricultural operation. As a result, many agricultural producers are interested in carrying out more on-the-farm processing to convert their produce into higher-value packaged consumer goods and/or carrying out direct sales to consumers from the farm to increase their economic returns.

Carrying out direction from our elected Board of Supervisors, Permit Sonoma worked with agricultural interest groups to develop zoning code amendments which will enable small–scale agricultural processing and/or retail operations to get started much more easily.

The Board of Supervisors adopted Ordinance No. 6081 on July 29, 2014 to put the new provisions into effect. They allow small scale agricultural processors which meet specified standards to be approved with a simpler, less expensive zoning permit and allows more types of sales to be conducted at farms either as an allowed use by right or as a small farm retail facility approved by a zoning permit.

Small-Scale Onsite Agricultural Sales

Agricultural processing is the act of changing an agricultural product from its natural state to a different form such as: milk to cheese, olives to olive oil, apples to juice, and fruit to jam. Many farmers are interested in processing their agricultural commodities into a higher value, consumer product to increase their economic profitably and help maintain the economic viability of their agricultural operation.

Up until mid 2014, the County’s Zoning required all such proposals in agricultural areas to be approved on a case- by-case basis through a discretionary Use Permit process. However processing of a Use Permit can require significant time and resources which may be beyond the means of a small start-up operation.  To help small processing operations get started, the County’s Zoning Code was amended in mid 2014 to establish a simpler, less expensive process which small-scale agricultural processing facilities which meet specified standards and criteria to be approved through a ministerial zoning permit approval process. Summary of the process and Zoning Code standards for such small-scale operations.

The Zoning Code standards for small agricultural processing operations were adopted to help ensure neighborhood compatibility and to minimize potential impacts. However, it is important to note that the Zoning Code does not reduce or alter any of the regulatory requirements of other Federal, State, or Local agencies with regulate the agricultural processing or associated activities and where applicable, those requirements must be complied with as well as those set forth in the Zoning Code.

Contact Information

Contact Planning by Phone
Monday – Friday
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.465074, -122.723705

Related Resources

Temporary Food Facility Permit for Community Events
Health Services

Agriculture Ombudsman
University of California Cooperative Extension

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