Between 1984 and 2010, California lost an average of over 50,000 acres of agricultural land annually.
Reducing that agricultural land conversion by 40%, or 20,000 acres per year, would avoid 1.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That’s equivalent to taking 240,000 cars off the road and reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled by 2.9 billion miles annually.
Fortunately, a program funded by California’s cap-and-trade system is tackling the problem of farmland conversion head-on. The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC) received a $5 million allocation in last year’s budget. Those funds will be awarded to local government planning grants and agricultural conservation easements that reduce urban sprawl and cut GHGs.
But a coalition of thirty-one land trusts, agricultural groups and environmental organizations say $5 million is not nearly enough considering the scale of this challenge. The coalition, led by CalCAN, has submitted a letter to legislators calling for more robust investments in the SALC program. We highlight that demand for the program has far exceeded the current funding level this year, with over $45 million in requests.
The letter calls for increasing the current insufficient SALC allocation upwards to the equivalent of 2% of total cap-and-trade investments, or about $40 million.
The coalition’s request is also being championed by Senator Lois Wolk (D – Davis) through her SB 367: The Agriculture Climate Benefits Act. That bill, which also includes funding for on-farm projects that reduce GHGs and store carbon in soils, recently sailed through the State Senate with a bipartisan vote of 33-2, and was featured as part of the historic California Climate Leadership Package. CalCAN is proud to co-sponsor SB 367 with CAFF.
The Legislature’s Budget Conference Committee is currently debating this year’s budget before a June 15th deadline. We will continue to make the case for adequate investments in SALC, which is a critical program in the effort to unleash agricultural climate solutions.
Our letter to Legislative leadership can be viewed by clicking here [pdf].
The full list of organizations signing on in support of SALC is:
- American Farmland Trust
- Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust
- California Certified Organic Farmers
- California Climate & Agriculture Network
- California Council of Land Trusts
- California Rangeland Trusts
- Center for Food Safety
- Central Valley Farmland Trust
- Community Alliance with Family Farmers
- Defenders of Wildlife
- Ecological Farming Association
- Full Belly Farm
- Greenbelt Alliance
- Land Trust of Santa Cruz County
- Marin Agricultural Land Trust
- Mendocino Land Trust
- Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
- Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
- Pacific Forest Trust
- Peninsula Open Space Trust
- Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County
- Santa Clara County Open Space Authority
- Sustainable Agriculture Education
- Sierra Business Council
- Silicon Valley Land Conservancy
- Solano Land Trust
- Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
- Sonoma Land Trust
- Valley Land Alliance
- Yolo Land Trust
- Wild Farm Alliance