California Healthy Soils Policy

OVERVIEW California has a range of policies that support soil health and address climate change. The state has two main policies which directly focus on healthy soil. There is a suite of  “Climate Smart” policies which support the adoption of climate-friendly agriculture operations and multiple organic waste management policies that support soil health and greenhouse `gas emissions reductions through the incentivization of compost production and use. Developed in tandem, the policies that work to move organic waste to compost help to build supply for new markets created by carbon farming. The majority of policies are funded through the revenue generated by California’s Cap-and-Trade program. 

  • Healthy Soils Initiative (HSI): Created by executive order in 2015, HSI paved the way for the Healthy Soils Program by explicitly stating a need for soil stewardship and calling on government agencies to build a program with the purpose of supporting soil health. 
  • Healthy Soils Program (HSP): Put into statute in 2016, HSP incentivizes farmers and ranchers to build soil health through providing loans, grants, outreach, and education.
  • Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling: Put into statute in 2014, this policy requires businesses to recycle organic waste depending on the amount they produce in a week. More businesses are required to participate based on the policy’s implementation timeline. It is an unfunded mandate. 
  • Organics Waste Methane Emissions Reductions: Put into statute in 2016, this policy created a statewide goal of recycling organic waste as a means to reduce methane emissions from landfills. It is an unfunded mandate, although grants have assisted local governments and supportive organizations. 
  • Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP): Put into statute in 2016, AMMP provides dairy producers with grants for non-digester manure management projects (e.g., transition away from flush systems to dry scraping and solid separation to produce compost) as well as funds demonstration projects and producer education and outreach.
  • State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP): Created by executive order in 2014 but never put into statute. SWEEP provides grants for irrigation system improvements that reduce emissions and save water.  It was defunded in the 2019-20 budget year despite having high demand from agricultural producers. 
  • Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC): Launched in 2014 as a program of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program, SALC provides grants for agricultural conservation easements and to local governments to develop plans and policies related to farmland conservation. 

Healthy Soils Initiative (HSI)

Dates: 

Enacted April 2015

Legislation:

Created by Governor Jerry Brown’s Executive Order B-30-15, authorized under the Cannella Environmental Farming Act of 1995, Cal. Food & Agric. Code §§ 560–70 (2019), and codified in the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 38500-38599 (2019).

Sponsor/s: N/A

N/A

Description:

The Healthy Soils Initiative (HSI) was conceived as a way to help achieve California’s ambitious climate action goals while supporting farmers participating in sustainable farming practices. The initiative officially recognized the importance and many benefits of building soil health. 

It was launched by Governor Jerry Brown in 2015 through Executive Order. The initiative brought together a variety of government agencies, led by California’s Department of Food and Agriculture, to build a program designed to promote soil stewardship. 

This initiative led to the Healthy Soils Program (HSP). HSI is used almost interchangeably with HSP (for example the original web page for Healthy Soils Initiative now automatically redirects to Healthy Soils Program’s landing page).

Soil Health Definition:

“Health of agricultural soil relates to its ability to build and retain adequate soil organic matter via the activity of plants and soil organisms.”

Stated Goals: 

  1. Protect and restore soil organic matter in California’s soils.
  2. Identify sustainable and integrated financing opportunities to facilitate healthy soils.
  3. Provide for research, education and technical support to facilitate healthy soils.
  4. Increase efficiencies in government to support the enhancement of soil health on public and private lands.
  5. Promote interagency coordination and collaboration to support soils and related state goals. 

Program Required Measurements:

  • N/A

Tools & Guidance:

  • N/A

Funding Source/s:

  • The HSI identified funding sources that were then implemented in the Healthy Soils Program which as put into statute in 2016 (see below).

Funding Type/s:

  • See Healthy Soils Program.

Practices Eligible for Funding: 

  • N/A 

Agencies Involved

Rulemaking Process:

  • Administered by CDFA
  • Start-up action items and long term goals for HSI listed here

State Universities & Researchers:

  • N/A

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance Providers:

  • N/A

Education & Advocacy Groups:

  • N/A

Lessons Learned:

  • N/A

Media:

Maps:

  • N/A

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Healthy Soils Program (HSP)

Dates:

Passed in September 2016

Launched 2017

Legislation:

Created by SB-859 Public resources: greenhouse gas emissions and biomass.

Codified in Cal. Food & Agric. Code §§ 568-569 (2019)

Sponsor/s: 

Governor’s Executive Order

Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review

Lois Wolk, California State Senate, Dem. 3rd Senate District

Description:

The Healthy Soils Program (HSP) is designed to generate and steward healthy soils across the state as a means to reach California’s climate and conservation goals. Senate Bill SB-859 effectively codified the Healthy Soils Initiative which was created by Executive Order

HSP supports soil health by providing farmers and ranchers with financial assistance as well as outreach and educational materials for improving soil health and carbon sequestration. Specifically, HSP provides aid to farmers and ranchers to a) increase on-site carbon sequestration, b) lower GHG emissions from production, and c) accelerate the adoption of beneficial practices. HSP has two main branches: the Incentives Program and Demonstration Projects. 

HSP Incentives Program

Creates and administers financial incentives to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation management practices that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs), and improve soil health. 

HSP Demonstration Projects 

Collects data on conservation management practices and conducts a cost-benefit analysis for their implementation. Farmers and ranchers apply for grants to help implement the projects. The demonstration project types are broken into two categories: Type A projects require emissions data collection while Type B projects do not. 

HSP is run by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Although the funding amount has varied over the years, the vast majority of the program is funded through proceeds from the sale of permits under California’s Cap-and-Trade policy (known as California Climate Investments).

Soil Health Definition:

“Soils that enhance their continuing capacity to function as a biological system, increase soil organic matter, improve soil structure and water- and nutrient-holding capacity, and result in net long-term greenhouse gas benefits.”

Stated Goals:

  • Protect and restore soil organic matter in California’s soils.
  • Provide for research, education and technical support to facilitate healthy soils.
  • Provide financial assistance to implement conservation practices that improve soil health, sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Program Required Measurements: 

  • The Incentives Program requires grant recipients to report soil organic matter before implementing new practices and two years after implementation. 
    • Other measurements required are GHG emissions reduction benefits, soil health and environmental co-benefits, producers with a conservation plan, and location in relation to disadvantaged communities. 
    • Exact metrics are dependent on the practices implemented. A full list of eligible practices and their verification requirements can be found here.
  • All grant recipients for demonstration projects must measure soil organic matter (SOM) before implementing the practice and once every three years after implementation. 
    • Type A projects must also collect emissions measurements and crop yield analysis (these measurements are optional for Type B projects) 
    • Data on water and air quality, economic analysis, and other co-benefits are optional for both Type A and B
    • An example of the request for applications can be found here

Tools: 

Funding Source/s:

Funding Type/s: 

  • Grant program to farmers and ranchers 
    • Funding for the Incentives Program is based on a flat rate per acre per practice with a maximum of $50,000 per application. 
    • For Demonstration Projects, funding for Type A maxes out at $250,000 per application and funding for Type B maxes out at $100,000 per application. 

Practices Eligible for Funding:

  • Cropland Management Practices 
    • Cover Crops
    • Conservation Crop Rotation 
    • Mulching
    • Nutrient Management (15% reduction in fertilizer application only) 
    • No-Till 
    • Reduced Till 
    • Strip Cropping 
    • Compost Application Practices 
  • Herbaceous Cover Establishment on Cropland Practices 
    • Conservation Cover 
    • Contour Buffer Strips 
    • Field Border 
    • Filter Strip 
    • Forage and Biomass Planting 
    • Grassed Waterway 
    • Herbaceous Wind Barrier 
    • Riparian Herbaceous Cover 
    • Vegetative Barriers 
    • Woody Cover Establishment on Cropland Practices 
    • Alley Cropping 
    • Hedgerow Planting 
    • Multi-story Cropping 
    • Riparian Forest Buffer 
    • Tree/Shrub Establishment 
    • Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment
  • Grazing Lands Practices 
    • Compost Applications 
    • Prescribed Grazing 
    • Range Planting 
    • Silvopasture 

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process

  • The program is administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and advised by the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel (EFA SAP)
  • The applicant must submit an online application which undergoes an administrative and technical review
  • Grant solicitations including all requirements: 
  1. 2018 HSP request for grant applications for demonstration projects
  2. 2018 HSP request for grant applications for the incentives program

State Universities & Researchers: 

The State of California develops policy based on leading science and supports research on soil health with a number of Universities including:

  • University California Berkeley Silver Laboratory; Biogeochemical effects of climate change and human impacts on the environment. Climate change mitigation potential of working lands, drought and hurricane impacts on tropical forests, and greenhouse gas dynamics and carbon sequestration potential of peatlands and wetlands. Dr. Timothy Bowles. Dr. Nina Ichikawa, Berkeley Food Institute.
  • University of California Davis Cooperative Extension Soil Resource Laboratory; Soil genesis and morphology, rangeland soils, hydropedology, water quality and constructed wetlands, soil-landscape relationships and modeling, watershed-scale digital soil mapping and quantitative pedology, repackaging soil survey into interactive decision support tools, soil survey related outreach, online soil surveys, SoilWeb. Professors: Valerie Eviner, Amélie Gaudin, Kate Scow
  • University of California Santa Barbara Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP); Improving quantified, data-based estimates of the potential specific management strategies have to build up soil carbon (reducing CO2 stocks), increase grassland biodiversity, and reduce nutrient loss from agriculture to water systems. 
  • University of California Merced Ghezzehei Lab; Physical underpinnings in the soil such as nutrient dynamics and conservation tillage. Dr. Rebecca Ryals Agroecology, climate change, soil health, and carbon sequestration.
  • Chico State Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems, Cynthia Daley.

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance Providers:

Education & Advocacy Groups:

Lessons Learned:

  • The definition of terms must be clear in order to effectively and efficiently achieve the intended aims of the program
  • Farmers must be at the decision-making table in order to earn their support. 
  • Funding for, and an emphasis on, technical assistance is critical to successful program applications and implementation of practices.
  • Cultivating a team of producer-champions can help educate legislators and stakeholders through their farms and experience.
  • Emphasize the many co-benefits of soil carbon, including water retention and nutrient cycling to provide evidence for efficiency.
  • Work with local chapters of the Farm Bureau and local Conservation Districts to understand the needs and challenges of producers on the ground and to provide education, technical assistance, and political support respectively.
  • Coordinate application requirements, funding streams, definitions, etc. in all related bills to accelerate the passage.
  • Advisory boards (such as the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel) help to build support, manage stakeholder relationships, and provide a point of intervention for advocacy groups in the rulemaking process. Refer to the text of Cal. Food and Agric Code §§ 568(b) (2019) for guidance regarding the inclusion of expertise from scientists, farmers (including organic) and technical advisors. 
  • It is important to include farmers’ voices, not just advocacy organizations. CalCAN organized comment letters, meetings with legislators, farm tours, written profiles, and more with actual growers to successfully pass legislation. 

Media: 

The Soil Story (Kiss the Ground)

Can Dirt Save the Earth? (New York Times Sunday Magazine)

A Time of Reckoning in the Central Valley (Bay Nature)

Maps:

Resource Conservation Districts Offering Carbon Farm Planning (contact Lynette Niebrugge at Carbon Cycle Institute lniebrugge@carboncycle.org)

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Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling

Dates:

Signed into law October 2014 

AB 1826 Implementation Timeline

  • April 2016: Businesses generating 8 cubic yards per week of food waste 
  • January 2017: Businesses generating 4 cubic yards per week of food waste 
  • January 2019: Businesses generating 4 cubic yards per week of solid waste 
  • 2020: If there isn’t a 50% reduction in organic waste from 2014 levels by 2020, businesses generating 2 cubic yards per week of solid waste will have composting requirements

Legislation:

Created by AB 1826: Solid waste: organic waste

Codified in Cal. Pub Res Code §§ 42649.8-42649.87 (2019)

Sponsor/s: 

Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro

Description:

Assembly Bill 1826 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills by recycling organic waste. The Bill was a compromise between industry and advocacy groups to avoid the California Air and Resources Board (CARB) strictly regulating the industry. Instead of regulation based on emissions reduction, regulation is based on organic waste diversion. 

The Bill requires businesses to separate organic waste and sign up for organics recycling depending on the amount of organic waste they produce in a week. The Bill includes phases of implementation in which the requirements get stricter, requiring more businesses to participate. 

AB 1826 is an unfunded mandate, with the expectation that local government agencies will collect a fee from organic waste collection to cover the cost of implementation. The Department of Resources Recycling & Recovery (CalRecycle) will assess each jurisdiction’s organics recycling program on an annual basis to determine if they are in compliance with AB 1826. 

Soil Health Definition:

N/A 

Stated Goals:

  • To help achieve California’s recycling goals by diverting organic waste from landfills
  • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by organic waste rotting in landfills to help achieve California’s climate goals
  • To increase the production of compost and mulch which has beneficially uses in agriculture 

Program Required Measurements:

  • Local jurisdictions will measure the recovery rate of organic waste based on waste characterization studies 

Tools & Guidance: 

Funding Source/s: 

  • AB 1826 is an unfunded mandate.

Funding Type/s:

  • N/A

Practices Eligible for Funding: 

N/A 

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process:

  • Overseen by CalRecycle and local governmental agencies
  • Rules-based on the amount of organic waste businesses generate 

State Universities & Researchers: 

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance Providers:

Education & Advocacy Group:

Lessons Learned:

  • Avoid the “chicken and egg” mentality by accounting for all needs in a piece of legislation.  For example, it would be difficult to invest in creating composting facilities without demonstrating the ability to collect sufficient organic waste. Instead, generate legislation that assures both conditions are met.

Media:

Maps:

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Short Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP): Organic Waste Methane Emissions Reductions

Dates: 

Signed into law September 2016

Legislation:

Created by SB 1383: Short-lived climate pollutants: methane emissions: dairy and livestock: organic waste: landfills

Codified in Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 39730.5-39730.8 (2019), Cal. Pub Res Code §§ 42652-42654 (2019)

Sponsor/s: 

Senator Ricardo Lara

Description:

Senate Bill 1383 aims to further the progress made by the Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling Program (created by AB 1826) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills by recycling organic waste. The Bill was another compromise between industry and advocacy groups to avoid the California Air and Resources Board (CARB) strictly regulating industry. It effectively codifies CARB’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy, but instead of regulation based on emissions reduction, regulation is based on organic waste diversion. 

SB 1383 establishes various methane emissions reduction targets to achieve the statewide goal of reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP). It includes a goal of 50% reduction in the disposal of organic waste by 2020, a 75% reduction by 2025, and a 20% edible food recovery goal by 2025.

It is an unfunded mandate, with the expectation that local government agencies will collect a fee from organic waste collection to cover the cost of implementation. SB 1383 is overseen by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

Soil Health Definition:

N/A

Stated Goals:

  • To reduce methane emissions from landfills as a part of California’s broader goals of reducing the emissions of short-lived climate pollutants 
  • To help achieve California’s goal of recycling 75% of the waste stream by 2020 
  • To increase the production of compost and mulch which has beneficially uses for agriculture (specifically for soil health and water conservation).  

Program Required Measurements:

Tools & Guidance: 

Funding Source/s: 

  • SB 1383 is an unfunded mandate that is expected to be funded through rate increases 
  • There are grants available to compost and food recovery organizations which have already reached over $60 million.

Funding Type/s:

Practices Eligible for Funding: 

  • N/A

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process:

State Universities & Researchers: 

  • University of California Berkeley, Silver Laboratory, organic material analysis (land grant university)

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance Providers:

Education & Advocacy Groups:

Lessons Learned:

  • A compromise with industry was achieved by shifting away from direct and immediate regulation of greenhouse gas emissions to setting future targets and allowing a time period of voluntary action supported through new state funding programs. 
  • A lower target of 75% reduction as opposed to the initial reduction goal of 90% was agreed upon to allow for more lead time to manage for organics conversion to compost as opposed to incineration or mechanical biological treatment. That is because it a) is easier to hold people accountable to a smaller number and b) allows for more time to be invested in developing and achieving strategies that contain multiple steps as opposed to single technology solutions.

Media:

California Launches Its Organics Revolution

Maps:

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Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP)

Dates: 

Authorizing legislation was signed in 2016. AMMP was launched in 2017 

Legislation:

Preceded by Senate Bill 859

Sponsor/s: 

Introduced by Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review

Description:

Senate Bill 859 mandates a 40% reduction in livestock methane emissions by 2030 and created the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP) as one method to achieve that goal. The program was created to support the dairy industry voluntarily reduce emissions as a part of a statewide effort to address methane and other short-lived greenhouse gas emissions. 

AMMP incentivizes dairy producers to reduce methane emissions by providing grants for non-digester manure management projects as well as for demonstration projects for new technologies, practices, and advancing farmer-to-farmer education. The program is run by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and receives funding through California Climate Investments (CCI).

Stated Goals:

  • To provide grants to dairy and other livestock producers to support their transition to manure handling and storage strategies that reduce methane emissions. These strategies include composting manure, shifting from a liquid flush system to dry scraping, advanced solids separation, and improved pasture management. 
  • To help achieve California’s broader goals of reducing the emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (such as methane)

Program Required Measurements:

  • Grant recipients must measure methane emissions associated with manure treatment/storage. 
  • Grant recipients are required to collect data and submit reports to the CDFA for 5 years after the project term including:
    • Weeks per year of livestock spent at pasture
    • Confirmation that solid separation or dry scrape technology is operational and being utilized
    • Detailed explanation of project co-benefits achieved
    • Description of efforts planned or in place for sustaining the project’s co-benefits through the life of the project
    • Explanation of economic benefits achieved and describe efforts planned or in place for sustaining the project’s economic benefits
  • Grant Management Procedures Manual

Tools & Guidance: 

  • The California Air Resources Board (CARB) created an “AMMP Calculator Tool” which can be downloaded here under Alternative Manure Management Practices.
    • This tool calculates Greenhouse Gas emissions reductions as well as benefits such as compost production, fuel and energy cost savings and others.

Funding Source/s: 

Funding Type/s:

  • Grant program provides up to $750,000 per project 

Practices Eligible for Funding:

  • Pasture-based based management (this includes a compost bedded pack barn)
  • Composting manure
  • Shifting from a liquid flush system to dry scraping
  • Advanced solids separation
  • Improved pasture management

Practices EXCLUDED from Funding: 

  • Anything that increases the baseline of emissions 
  • Operations that previously received AMMP funding 
  • Any anaerobic digester system 
  • Equipment or activities that will receive funding from a different state or federal source 

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process:

State Universities & Researchers: 

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance Providers:

Education & Advocacy Groups:

Lessons Learned:

  • Emphasize the many co-benefits of alternative manure management, including water contamination and air pollution in order to build support. 
  • Linked to the Healthy Soils Program as a potential source for quality compost to assist with carbon sequestration

Media:

Maps:

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State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program (SWEEP)

Date: 

Launched in 2014

Legislation:

Originally authorized by an emergency drought declaration by Governor Jerry Brown through the Executive Order B-17-2014

Sponsor/s:

N/A

Description:

The State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program (SWEEP) was created in the middle of one of California’s worst droughts. Its aim was to reduce water use on farms while also working to achieve California’s emissions reduction goals.

SWEEP provides grants for agricultural irrigation system improvements that reduce emissions while saving water. It is run by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Historically, it has been funded through the sale of permits under California’s Cap-and-Trade policy (known as California Climate Investments) and through the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for all Act of 2018 (Cal. Pub Res Code §§ 80000-80173 (2019). The program was not funded in the 2019 legislative session and the future of SWEEP is uncertain. 

Soil Health Definition:

N/A

Stated Goals:

  • To build California’s drought resiliency by reducing water usage on farms and ranches
  • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with water usage in agricultural production  

Program Required Measurements:

  • Grant applicants must conduct a pump test to check the efficiency of their water pump and measure energy and water use (e.g. via utility bills and fuel receipts).
  • Grant applicants must utilize one or more of the following measurement tools: a soil moisture meter, evapotranspiration measurement, or a flow meter. 
  • Grant recipients must keep invoices, receipts, project records, any other relevant supporting documents, and collect and maintain on-farm energy and water use documentation for at least three years after final verification. 

Tools & Guidance: 

  • SWEEP Irrigation Water Savings Assessment tool (downloadable online) to estimate water savings 
  • SWEEP GHG Emission Reduction Calculator (downloadable online)
  • Community FactFinder to determine if the project is located near a disadvantaged community 
  • PDF on over-drafted groundwater basins in CA

Funding Source/s: 

Funding Type/s:

  • Grant program 
    • $62.8 million has been awarded to date (614 projects on over 113,994 acres)
    • SWEEP provides grants of up to $100,000 per project 

Practices Eligible for Funding: 

  • Soil moisture monitoring
  • Drip systems
  • Switching to low-pressure irrigation systems
  • Energy efficiency projects (ex. pump retrofits)
  • Variable frequency drives 
  • Installation of renewable energy to reduce on-farm water use and energy
  • Low-pressure irrigation systems
  • Reduced pumping
  • Other management practices that could achieve both water use and emissions reduction (ex. Improving soil quality to increase water-holding capacity)

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process:

  • CDFA conducts an administrative review of applications
  • University of California and California State University systems provide academic experts who conduct a technical review of applications 
  • The score is determined by: 
    • Emissions reduction per acre 
    • Water savings per acre 
    • Co-benefits including distance from disadvantaged communities 
  • CDFA Application Overview
  • 2018 SWEEP Request for Grant Applications 

State Universities & Researchers: 

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance Providers:

Education & Advocacy Groups:

Lessons Learned:

  • If an executive order is used to launch a program, it is important to solidify the policy in statute to ensure long term viability of the program.
  • Funding for and an emphasis on technical assistance, especially one-on-one, was critical in building support for SWEEP.
  • CalCAN policy brief and program analysis

Media:

Maps:

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Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC)

Dates: 

SB 862 passed in 2014

SALC launched in 2015 

Legislation:

Introduced as SB 862 Greenhouse gases: emissions reduction bill

Codified as Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 39719 (2019), Cal. Pub Res Code §§ 75200-75218 (2019)

Sponsor/s: 

Introduced by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review

Description:

Senate Bill 862 established the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program and set the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) as its administrator. The AHSC created the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC) to help achieve its goal of land use emissions reduction. 

SALC incentivizes farmland conservation from urban and suburban development as a means to achieve emissions reduction and capitalize on the co-benefits of protected farmland. SALC provides two types of grants. The first is to fund agricultural conservation easements. This permanently protects the land from being developed. The second type of grants is to support local government in creating policies that will protect agricultural land. 

SALC is administered by the California Department of Conservation on behalf of the Strategic Growth Council. The program receives 10% of all Affordable Housing & Sustainable Communities funding. This funding is generated through the sale of permits under California’s Cap-and-Trade policy (known as California Climate Investments). 

Soil Health Definition:

N/A

Stated Goals:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with land use, specifically the transition of agricultural land to urban and suburban land use.
  • To build more resilience in the agricultural sector to changing economic and social factors 

Program Required Measurements:

  • Grant recipients must estimate avoided emissions using the California Air Resources Board (CARB) quantification methodology, which is based on the estimated vehicle miles not traveled by protecting agricultural land at risk of conversion and limiting opportunities for expansive, vehicle dependent forms of development.
  • Potential employment benefits associated with the project is estimated using the jobs co-benefit assessment methodology developed by CARB.
  • Any co-benefits of the project (e.g. ecosystem services through wildlife habitat) must be measured.

Tools & Guidance: 

  • The California Air Resources Board (CARB) created “Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation Program Quantification Methodology” downloadable here under “Sustainable Agriculture Land Conservation.”

Funding Source/s: 

Funding Type/s: 

  • Grant program 
    • A total of  $123.9 million in grants have been awarded since 2015

Practices Eligible for Funding: 

  • For planning grants:
    • The project documents the threat of agricultural land conversion
    • The project has reportable objectives, measures of progress, and deliverables
  • For agricultural conservation easements:
    • The intended land must be at risk of conversion to other land use 
    • The project must “complement Sustainable Communities Strategies planning efforts”
    • The project shows that it can achieve an emissions reduction 
  • Full list of grant guidelines

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process:

  • Rulemaking is overseen by the California Department of Conservation. 
  • Grant applicants must submit a pre-proposal with basic information on the project’s scope and goals for an initial screening. 
  • Selection criteria are as follows: 
    • Demonstrated need for the project 
    • Economic, environmental, or public health co-benefits 
    • Evidence of collaboration with stakeholders 
    • Planning integration of other efforts/ policies in that geographic area 
    • Organizational capacity to execute proposed work 
    • Priority population benefits 
  • Easement and Planning Grant Application Information

State Universities & Researchers:

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance Providers:

Education & Advocacy Groups:

Lessons Learned:

Media:

Maps:

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Questions?

Contact California@healthysoilspolicy.org