On January 23, 2015, Xinhua reported that one of the priorities of the State Council for 2015 is to designate permanent farmland.
As of now, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Land Resources have already begun full implementation. The effort will start with big cities and spread to small towns. The effort is expected to be completed in 2016 and farmland will be returned to farmers.
According to the 2015 National Conference on Land Resources, which just adjourned, the priority is to designate farmland around cities as permanent farmland so that it will be impossible to change the size of the designated farmland. Large-scale urbanization means more and more rural land has become "non-agricultural." To ensure national food security for China’s 1.3 billion people, China has designated 1.8 billion mu (approximately .3 billion acres) as permanent farmland. From 1996 to 2009, China lost 205 million mu (approximately 33.8 million acres) of high quality farmland to urbanization.
Source: Xinhua, January 23, 2015.