Expanding Access to Agricultural Land Conservation Programs

Helianth is providing Technical Assistance to the California Department of Conservation on its initiative to increase equity and inclusion of underrepresented groups in its Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation program, or SALC.

Our goal is to increase the degree to which socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers are included in projects funded by the SALC program. We are doing this by identifying barriers and opportunities for engaging these groups, defining strategies that can be used by grant applicants to better engage and benefit these groups, conducting training to help potential grant applicants improve their engagement of these groups, and finally, providing technical support for grant applications that demonstrate effective inclusion of diverse perspectives (in particular, those of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers).

The SALC program is a component of the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. It supports California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals by making strategic investments to protect agricultural lands from conversion to more GHG-intensive uses. 

It has been a very successful program, providing over $300 million of funding for nearly 200 acquisition, easement, and planning projects in the past decade.

However, the Department has identified a critical gap in where benefits are being realized. It is investing in efforts to build capacity and expertise among underrepresented stakeholders and eligible applicants so that conservation of agricultural lands can be more equitable across the state. 

Helianth’s support of these efforts will result in greater diversity among those receiving funding for, and benefiting from, the State’s support for agricultural lands conservation.