Expanding Access to Ag 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 Land 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 need to build capacity and expertise among stakeholders and eligible applicants so that more meaningful engagement and increased program participation among historically underrepresented groups can occur.