In this recent piece in New York Times Magazine, Mark Bittman concludes:
But beyond the profit motive, there is little public support or encouragement for them or their ideas and no way for consumers or even officials to know whom to support. As a result, our land use and, to a considerable extent, our diet are dependent on the hunches and whims of landowners. If we want a system of farming that’s sustainable on all levels, we have to think about a national food and farming policy.
If landowners' "hunches and whims" aren't what dictates how they choose to use their land, whose "hunches and whims" do we follow? Apparently those of a cookbook writer in NYC living over 2,000 miles away.
Apparently, Bittman is no fan Hayek. Farming is not the only use of land. And, it is by no means obvious it is the best use of land. Market prices are what inform us as to the relative value of land (and other assets) that can be put to alternative uses. And it is exactly those "hunches and whims" of the owners of assets who, by responding to prevailing prices, guide resources to their most valued use. The people who are willing to fork over the money to buy the assets and the people who'd receive the money to give up what they own are the ones suited to truly judge the value (not people who have no skin in the game - e.g., cookbook writers).
If you think California land should be used in a way different than it is being put to use by current land owners, it's time to put your money where your mouth is and put in an offer. Until then, I have some good reading to recommend.