California is funding projects to conserve agricultural land and fight climate change

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California is funding projects to conserve agricultural land and fight climate change

California has announced funding for the next round of the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Program, which fights climate change by providing grants to projects that conserve agricultural lands and encourage sustainable development. 

Since the first round of awards in 2015, the SALC Program has awarded $373 million to projects in 36 counties, permanently conserving more than 194,000 acres of agricultural land.

“California is enlisting our working lands to fight climate change, support local economies, and combat urban sprawl,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. 

“Across the state, we’ve conserved thousands of acres of agricultural land under this program, and will continue to support a wide range of innovative projects to reduce emissions and protect our communities.”

Related article: California lawmakers seeking disaster relief package for farmers

The California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) and the Department of Conservation (DOC) announced the release of funding for Round 9 of the program, which is funded by Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds. While the total amount available in this round will be determined later this year, funds available in Round 8 last year totaled nearly $105 million.

The SALC Program prioritizes funding for projects that benefit California Native American tribes, beginning farmers and ranchers, farmers and ranchers who are U.S. Military Veterans, and farmers and ranchers who live in disadvantaged communities or low-income communities or households.

SGC has reduced the match requirement for acquisitions from 25% to 10%, recognizing that match funding requirements may be prohibitive in communities where such match funding is harder to access. 

Applicants whose projects will benefit priority populations may apply for 100% funding with no match funding required.

SALC grants are available for projects that develop plans to protect agricultural lands or to conserve such lands directly by acquiring agricultural conservation easements or purchasing land outright for conservation. 

The program also provides grants to support the capacity of local organizations to develop agricultural conservation projects.

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