University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources

Client Stories

UCCE ombudsman helps Sonoma specialty cheesemakers navigate permit trouble

Marsha* and her sister have been making award-winning cheese on their family dairy for more than five years. They worked with California Department of Food and Agriculture dairy inspectors to build their facilities, and eventually they hired a distributor to help them deliver cheese to local stores. One soggy winter day, they received a letter from the Sonoma County permit department saying they were operating in violation of zoning laws and needed to cease all operations and purchase a $15,000 permit. This would have been well beyond the sisters’ available resources. The UCCE agriculture ombudsman in Sonoma County stepped in to help save Marsha and her sister’s business, and even negotiated an upcoming change in the zoning code that will officially allow small-scale agriculture processing to operate on land zoned to agriculture.

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