What is the Ag Pass program?
The purpose of creating a county-based "Ag Pass" program is to provide a uniform way to identify vetted commercial farm and ranch owner-operators and their employees to firefighting personnel, California Highway Patrol officers, Sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement officers, and other emergency personnel. Possession of an Ag Pass during a flood, storm, fire, earthquake, or other disaster, potentially allows the agriculturalist limited emergency access to areas that may otherwise be restricted to the public, in order to:
- Protect or care for agricultural assets (such as irrigating crops or feeding, watering, and transporting livestock) and/or
- Provide support information to emergency personnel (such as identifying access roads and water points)
Ag Pass Cards
Ag Pass cards are applied for by, and distributed to, eligible agriculturalists before a disaster. The application process is designed to confirm that the cardholder is a legitimate agricultural owner-operator or employee whose services are essential to providing protection or care to agricultural assets, such as livestock, croplands, vineyards, and orchards. Individuals eligible for the Ag Pass card must be key personnel who have a working knowledge of the agricultural property, including access to irrigation systems, farm equipment, and other essential infrastructure. Prior to receiving an Ag Pass card, eligible recipients will receive training in emergency procedures and understand that their role is to provide limited protection and/or care to the agricultural operation, not to act in a fire fighting or first responder capacity during a disaster.
Possession of an Ag Pass card does not grant special rights or privileges and does not necessarily mean the cardholder will be able to pass through road closures to get to their farm or ranch. If there is imminent danger, front-line emergency personnel are empowered to use discretion when it comes to protecting emergency crews and the public from unnecessary exposure to risk. However, in those cases when the boundaries of the closure area include agricultural land not deemed at imminent risk, the cards may allow employees or owners access to the agricultural property, at the discretion of front-line emergency personnel.
For the initial program rollout, no more than three (3) individuals from any agricultural operation (not each individual site of the operation) will be eligible to obtain an Ag Pass. To reiterate, the purpose of the Ag Pass is to potentially allow an agriculturalist access to his or her farm or ranch for limited emergency response activities to protect or care for agricultural assets only. It is not a pathway that allows for normal agricultural operations or activities (i.e. harvesting, packing, planting, etc.). The Ag Pass will only be available to agriculturalists who meet the following criteria:
- Property must be located in the State Responsibility Areas (SRA) of San Luis Obispo County. Visit map link below for property location.
- Because properties in the Wildland Urban Interface are subject to rapid change during wildfires or similar disasters, Ag Passes are only appropriate in the SRA.
- The operation must be either:
- A commercial agricultural enterprise, or
- Property used for conducting agricultural research or instruction by an educational institution
- Property must be zoned agricultural and a minimum of 40 acres in size.
- The Applicant is key personnel of the operation that has a working knowledge of the agricultural property, including access to irrigation systems, farm equipment, and other essential infrastructure.
- The Applicant and employer (if different than the Applicant) must sign a document waiving and releasing the County of any liability related to participation in the Ag Pass Program.
The Ag Pass program is a coordinated program that is made possible to San Luis Obispo County residents through the sponsorship and coordination of the County of San Luis Obispo Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures Office, San Luis Obispo County Fire Department, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, San Luis Obispo County's Sheriff's Office, and the California Highway Patrol.
Fill out an Ag Pass Interest Form Here