March 13, 2023 - Director Shabazian approved more than $3 million in grants through the Department of Conservation’s California Farmland Conservancy Program (CFCP). Awarded grants will permanently protect approximately 1,000 acres in the counties of Kings, Lassen, and Mariposa. Funding was also awarded for four land improvement projects in Amador, Plumas, Shasta, and San Luis Obispo counties. Land improvement grants are exclusive to and for the benefit of already-protected agricultural lands. This round of the program was funded by the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002 (Proposition 40), and California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018 (Proposition 68).
This program is funded by the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002 (Proposition 40), and California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018 (Proposition 68).
- Agricultural Conservation Easements: Grants to protect agricultural lands under threat of conversion to nonagricultural uses through the acquisition of voluntary, permanent agricultural conservation easements.
- Land Improvement Grants: Grants for the improvement of lands protected by a conservation easement or similar long-term conservation agreement as determined by the Department’s Director if the improvement will directly benefit the protected land.
- Tax-exempt nonprofit organizations qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and qualified to do business in this state. Eligible non-profits must have as their primary purpose the preservation, protection, or enhancement of land in its natural, scenic, historical, agricultural, forested, or open-space condition or use (“Primary Purpose").
- The state or any city, county, city and county, district, or other state or local governmental entity, if otherwise authorized to acquire and hold title to real property and if the conservation easement is voluntarily conveyed.
- A federally recognized California Native American tribe or a nonfederally recognized California Native American tribe that is on the contact list maintained by the Native American Heritage Commission to protect a California Native American prehistoric, archaeological, cultural, spiritual, or ceremonial place, if the conservation easement is voluntarily conveyed.
Legislative Updates (effective January 1, 2023)
Per Assembly Bill 2964. Notable changes include:
- Applicants: Broadened the definition of "Applicant" to include California Native American tribes.
- Local Government Notification: Eliminated the requirement that the applicable local government pass a resolution of support for the proposed project and replaced it with a new requirement that a notification letter be sent to the applicable planning director.
- Restrictions on Husbandry Practices: Loosened the prohibition against restrictions on husbandry practices by including an extensive list of activities that are deemed “consistent and compatible” with husbandry practices. Examples include:
- Restoration, enhancement, maintenance, protection and conservation of natural resources
- activities to reduce the ag operation’s emissions of GHGs and improve/promote/enhance the land’s adaption and resilience to climate change
- activities to support water conservation and protection, improve air quality, fuels reduction and management
- construction of renewable energy facilities for the ag operation
- Land Improvements: Broadened the scope of potential land improvement projects by eliminating the requirement that such projects must benefit CFCP-funded easements and instead requiring that they occur on land protected by a conservation easement or a similar long-term conservation agreement.
- Administrative Termination: Removed the 25-year administrative termination provision
Overview of the California Farmland Conservancy Program
The California Farmland Conservancy Program (CFCP) is a statewide grant program that supports local efforts to establish agricultural conservation easements and land improvement projects for the purpose of preserving important agricultural land resources and enhancing sustainable agricultural uses.
CFCP was created by the California Farmland Conservancy Program Act of 1995 to:
- Encourage voluntary, long-term private stewardship of agricultural lands
- Protect farming and ranching operations in agricultural areas from nonfarm or nonranch land uses that may hinder or curtail such operations
- Encourage long-term conservation of productive agricultural lands in order to protect the agricultural economy of rural communities, as well as that of the state, for future generations of Californians
- Encourage local land use planning for orderly and efficient urban growth and conservation of agricultural land
- Encourage local land use planning decisions that are consistent with the state's agricultural land conservation policies
- Encourage improvements to enhance long-term sustainable agricultural uses
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