Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) can add the Moretti Dairy in Tomales to its list of protected farmland, after rapidly raising $530,000 to purchase development rights for the dairy’s neighboring ranch.
Mike Moretti, a second-generation dairyman, has grazed his cows for 16 years on his absentee neighbor’s 126-acre property. “It all happened really quickly,” he said of his purchase. “We had to do a little gambling in that we had to buy it before and just hope that MALT could come through. If they didn’t, we sure would have been in a pickle! But I knew [MALT] wanted it and it fit into their scheme. Helping family farms like ours continue on is what MALT is all about.”
Since gaining organic certification last year, the extra pastureland is even more vital to the Moretti Dairy. “The organic certification requires that the animals have access to pasture for a certain amount of time every year, and without access to that pasture, the Moretti’s would have had trouble maintaining their certification,” MALT’s executive director Bob Berner said.