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SECTION II:  POTENTIAL STRATEGIES
GROUP E: STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESSFUL PLANNING BY PROJECT PROPONENTS

Strategy E1: Project Planning
Strategy E1.3 Avoid, minimize and mitigate for impacts to agricultural land from project
Strategy E1.4 Implementation and Funding 

DESCRIPTION

How an ALS Strategy might be implemented will depend on what kind of activity it is intended to carry out.  Measures to take into consideration include:

Implementation

Implementation of a strategy could be carried out with regard to one or more of three different kinds of activities.  These activities are identified below.   

  • Project planning to include agricultural considerations.  

Some of the strategies are standards of practice that are or could be included as part of the project.  Others could include ways to involve farmers in managing project lands for project purposes and could range from payments to use the land to partnerships to manage the land.  Some of these might not result in any additional costs to the projects.  Others might add to project costs.

  • CEQA/NEPA mitigation. 

As discussed in Strategy E1.3.3, mitigation for impacts to agricultural resources is usually accomplished by purchasing agricultural conservation easements or other property interests. To the extent that strategies are selected as a result of the Optional Agricultural and Land Stewardship Approach for CEQA/NEPA mitigation, it is expected that they would not be more costly than the Conventional Agricultural Approach which would be based on the costs to acquire necessary agricultural conservation easements or other property interests. 

  • Additional Commitments to Sustain Vital Local Economies

Because of the complex nature of farmland as a natural and economic resource, there can be different views on when an impact is economic and when it is environmental.  In addition, there may be policy reasons to support and encourage farmers and agriculture that go beyond current legal requirements. Additional Commitments could include some of the same strategies considered for the Optional Agricultural Land Stewardship Approach for CEQA/NEPA mitigation, but the funding would have to come from other sources.

New funding on a case by case basis.  Some of the strategies have (or have had in the past had) funding, for example Williamson Act subvention funds and funding for Weed Management Areas and funding has been reduced or eliminated for budgetary reasons.  It is possible that additional funding could be found for these programs.  Alternatively, new funding may come from new programs such as from a market to buy carbon credits or environmental services on the land. Each of these might require additional legislation, funding allocations or executive decisions.  They would be pursued case by case and would be subject to other priorities determined by the administration and the Legislature. .

New funding as part of a new program to fund Agricultural Land Stewardship Strategies not part of environmental mitigation.   Funding sources could come from new sources – such as from new bond funds or grants from new programs such as Cap and Trade funds or money used to mitigate for other projects.  Funds from existing programs or new money to existing programs could also become part of such a program.  There are a number of ways to set up such programs.  Several options are listed below:

  1. Give the funds to a governmental agency such as the California Department of Conservation, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Delta Conservancy, the Delta Stewardship Council, the Delta Protection Commission or to Regional Conservation Districts.  This option could also involve the creation of a new organization or a Joint Powers Agency consisting of relevant local agencies. The agency could distribute funds based on a set of factors to be determined.

  2. Give the funds to a governmental agency to distribute as competitive grants similar to programs run by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the Environmental Restoration Program or the California Department of Water Resources for the Integrated Regional Water Management Program.   The agency could distribute funds based on a set of factors to be determined.

  3. Give the funds to a governmental agency to distribute based on the recommendations of an advisory group composed of appropriate local agencies.  All (or a specified percentage of the members) would have to agree on a specified project before funding could be disbursed.  Consideration would need to be given to whether there would be any limitations on the funding besides consistency with relevant state and local policies.

Funding

The following potential sources of funding could be considered. 

  • Funded as part of project planning
  • Funds for project environmental mitigation.
  • Grants from state Integrated Regional Water Management and different Flood Management Programs and from federal National Resource Conservation Service and other similar sources. 
  • Grants from Non-profit organizations
  • Funds that might be used for mitigation of greenhouse gases could be used to support agriculture friendly GHG reduction activities
  • California Air Resources Board (CARB) established greenhouse gas offset market using credits created through the development and restoration of wetlands
  • Funding from CARB's "Cap and Trade" program developed pursuant to the Global Warming Act Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32)
  • Bond measure(s) placed on the statewide ballot

ISSUES

There can be different views on what is "mitigation" and what is "additional commitments".  A number of interests would object to use of mitigation funds to cover anything other than agricultural conservation easements.  Funding for additional commitments may be difficult to find.  It may be difficult to obtain agreement on governance for distributing funds for implementing different strategies. 

BDCP and EIR/EIS

BDCP includes a number of mitigation measures and additional commitments. 

PARTNERS AND OPPORTUNITIES

 If you would like to provide feedback on this strategy, please click the following link: Agricultural Stewardship Strategy Feedback Form

 ALS Workgroup: ALS Framework and Strategies: Section II:  Strategy E1.4 Implementation and Funding: 061014