DAVIS, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $50 million in 118 partnerships (including 11 in California) to expand access to conservation assistance for climate-smart agriculture and forestry. The Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements, administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will fund two-year projects to expand the delivery of conservation assistance to farmers who are new to farming, low income, socially disadvantaged or military veterans. Projects will support USDA’s broader effort to address climate change and equitable access to programs.
“We are committed to equal opportunity for those we serve, and we are taking bold, historic action to advance equity and root out generations of systemic racism,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “These partnerships are another example of how we are helping ensure historically underserved producers can more fully access and participate in our programs and services. As we’ve said before: equity will be a vital part of our climate change work, as America’s farmers and rural communities are on the frontlines of climate change. Our work with producers and partners will invest in climate smart solutions that improve profitability and resilience, open new market opportunities, and build wealth that stays in rural communities.”
The program encourages new partnerships and the development of state and community conservation leadership for historically underserved producers, with projects focusing on one or more of the following key conservation priorities:
- Improving soil health and water quality;
- Providing habitat for at-risk wildlife;
- Improving natural resources and productivity on agricultural lands; and/or
- Building and strengthening local and regional food systems and markets.
“These partnerships will provide a valuable tool to aid in our commitment to build climate resiliency in California, promote climate-smart agriculture, and further the values of equity and inclusion rooted in justice and equal opportunity for those we serve,” said NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez.
Partnerships and Projects in California
- Black Thumb Farm: Cultivating Capacity: Improving food security, community and environmental outcomes through regenerative farming and land access;
- California Association of Resource Conservation District: Advancing Equity in NRCS and RCDs Across California by Meeting Needs at the District Level;
- California Farm Link: Equity and Conservation on Working Lands for Historically Underserved Producers in California;
- Children Learning through Outdoor Experiences (ChLOE): Conservation and agriculture STEM education through outdoor experiences for k-12 students, emphasizing access for underserved populations (multistate);
- Community Alliance with Family Farmers: Cultivating Stewardship with Latinx Growers in California;
- Hernan Cavazos Garcia, Solidarity Farm: Cultivating a Climate and Crisis Resilient Foodshed for San Diego’s BIPoC Farmers;
- Pecan Street Inc.: Improving racial equality and inclusivity in access to NRCS resources and adoption of climate-smart agriculture (multistate);
- Rural Coalition: Effective Partnerships to Catalyze Resilient Operations for Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers (multistate).
Nationwide Partners and Projects
- Intertribal Agriculture Council: Embracing Culturally Relevant Outreach Techniques to Serve Socially Disadvantaged Tribal Producers;
- Nolo Martinez: Champions in Conservation and Climate-Smart Agriculture (CCCSA);
- Third Sector New England, Inc.: Expanding Equity and Conservation for Refugee Beginning Farmers.
These partnerships are part of USDA’s broader efforts to address inequity in program delivery.
–USDA NRCS California