Kern County Assessment Roll
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Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

Kern County’s annual assessment roll featured three large-scale agriculture institutions in its Top 20 Secured Property Assessments. Paramount Farms, Bolthouse Farms, and the Wonderful Company were estimated at upwards of 290 million.  

Despite high property values, certain preservation stipulations under the Williamson Act and the Farmland Security Zone reduce the amount a landowner actually pays.  

Laura Avila, Kern County Assessor-Recorder, explained that these agricultural preserves act as a “discount” wherein farmers are guaranteed the lowest of three possibilities—market, factor based year value, and the actual restricted value.   

“The industrial properties that process [agricultural] products may be in the preserve but only the land under the buildings get the reduction, not the buildings themselves,” Avila explained in an email. “The only other type of property, other than land that gets the benefit of the preserve is the living improvements, or trees and vines.” 

Areas of preserved farmland under the Williamson Act Program allows local governments to enter contracts with private landowners to restrict specific parcels of land to agricultural use. The contract lasts, at a minimum, for 10 years. In return, farmers receive reduced property tax assessments based on generated income rather than the potential market value of the property.  

According to Avila, the Williamson Act was designed to benefit the state of California as a way to preserve property—preserved land can only be used as open space or for agriculture, and it cannot be developed for residential purposes.  

An agricultural property assessment provided by Avila shows that two of the Wonderful Company’s properties—Paramount Farms International and the Wonder Citrus Packing—have one of the largest property values at a combined $877 million. Several acres of this land are under preservation contracts, according to the assessment.  

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