Funding Available for Ag Land Conservation

In its sixth year, cap-and-trade funded SALC Program requests grant applications to protect agricultural land and support infill development  

February 27, 2020

SACRAMENTO – The California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) is now accepting grant applications for projects that protect agricultural land and reduce greenhouse gases. The cabinet-level State body opened the sixth funding round of its Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC) after its interagency Council approved updated guidelines at its public meeting on Tuesday. 

SGC invites cities, counties, resource conservation districts, land trusts, California Native American tribes, and other governmental and non-profit entities to apply for grants that will help California limit sprawl and promote infill development, strengthen the agricultural economy, and meet its carbon reduction goals by avoiding increases in the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the conversion of agricultural land to nonagricultural uses. SALC offers grants for two types of projects – agricultural acquisition projects and planning projects.

“Through the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, we invest in conservation projects and planning in order to promote infill development, avoid greenhouse gas emission, and protect California’s vital agricultural lands and economy,” said Louise Bedsworth, Executive Director of the California Strategic Growth Council. “We’re thrilled to open SALC funding Round 6 to additional project and applicant types and encourage eligible organizations from all corners of California to apply.”

Funding for SALC comes from a portion of California’s cap-and-trade auction proceeds dedicated to greenhouse gas reduction. The amount available for fiscal year 2019-2020 has yet to be determined but totaled nearly $60 million last year.  

Prospective applicants must submit pre-proposals, or concept proposals, for acquisition projects by Thursday, April 30, 2020. Organizations interested in applying for planning grants are encouraged to submit pre-proposals as well. Complete applications for both acquisition and planning grants are due Friday, August 28, 2020. 

The Department of Conservation’s Division of Land Resource Protection (DLRP) administers the program on behalf of the SGC and contributes expertise to SALC by developing the guidelines used to evaluate proposals, managing an interagency team to review proposals, and making funding recommendations. After SGC awards SALC grants, DLRP works with applicants to successfully complete projects protecting California’s valuable agricultural resources.

“SALC has multiple benefits – conserving agricultural land, curbing sprawl, ensuring food security, and helping to reduce atmospheric carbon – so we are very excited to partner with the Strategic Growth Council on this program,” Department of Conservation Director David Shabazian said.

The SALC Program is part of SGC’s broader efforts to reduce emissions by supporting higher-density development and low-emission transportation alternatives such as public transit usage and bike trails. SGC prioritizes funding for projects that benefit disadvantaged communities.

Launched by SGC in 2015, the SALC Program has dedicated $180 million to agricultural conservation easements and planning grants in its first five years. SALC grantees are using their funding to conserve 92 properties – protecting nearly 112,0000 acres of agricultural land in perpetuity – and to develop 14 regional agricultural land conservation plans. Among the properties SALC grantees are working to protect from development are a 1,000- acre cattle ranch adjacent to the City of San Luis Obispo and a 113-acre irrigated farm utilized as an agricultural education facility to provide training and education to low income farm workers in Monterey County. Properties already protected by SALC include 2,204 acres of a ranch near Vacaville in Solano County that has been in operation for over 100 years, and a 69-acre walnut orchard located in Esparto in Yolo County. 

For additional information or for grant application materials, please contact the SALC Program at (916) 324-0850 or visit its webpage.

The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC) fights climate change by protecting our productive farmlands and encouraging infill development. SALC is a program of the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC), which coordinates the activities of State agencies and partners with stakeholders to promote healthy, thriving, resilient communities for all. 

Administered by the Department of Conservation’s Division of Land Resource Protection program, SALC is part of California Climate Investments (CCI), a statewide program that puts billions of Cap and Trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.” For more information, visit the the Strategic Growth Council's SALC program website.

Don Drysdale
(916) 323-1886