Jeanne Merrill is the Policy Director for the California Climate and Agriculture Network.
The Strategic Growth Council recently approved nearly $34 million in new grants for the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALCP).
SALCP is one a suite of Climate Smart Agriculture programs developed in California to meet the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. The state program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with urban sprawl and rural ranchette development by protecting at risk agricultural lands. SALCP is part of a larger effort to promote in-fill, transit-oriented development by the Brown administration.
The Council funded 25 agricultural conservation easement projects and 2 Strategy and Outcome grants for local governments to improve farmland conservation planning and policy development. The latest round of funding brings the total number of awarded conservation easement projects to 52 and 8 local government farmland conservation projects since the program began in 2014. The Council has invested nearly $76 million since the inception of SALCP.
The current round of conservation easement projects span 17 counties and covers over 46,000 acres. In three years, SALCP has protected nearly 80,000 acres in agricultural land. When compared to the 58,000 acres of agricultural land protected since 1996 with support from the California Farmland Conservancy Program, which relies on limited bond dollars, SALCP has made significant advancements in farmland protection in California is a short period of time.
More can still be done. California loses an average of 50,000 acres of crop and rangeland every year. Greater emphasis on farmland conservation policy development at the local level is needed.
This is an excerpt of an article published on the California Climate and Agriculture Network website on Dec. 18, 2017.
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