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Equity and Conservation on Working Lands

FarmLink’s Equity and Conservation on Working Lands (ECWL) program supports farmers in obtaining secure land tenure, adopting conservation practices, and planning for succession.

Farmers and ranchers can click here for ECWL program services.

Our focus is on serving beginning farmers, and farmers of color, to ensure they have equitable access to secure land tenure and are able to afford investment in conservation practices. We are particularly focused on supporting farmers in implementing regenerative practices that mitigate climate change, build soil health, improve water and carbon management, and foster biodiversity.

We advocate for public programs that help farmers implement conservation practices and also for programs that protect working lands from development. Many farmers are unable to access secure land tenure or public funding due to financial or language barriers. Our work aims to help farmers overcome those barriers.

Our team works with public and private landholders to create equitable pathways to secure land tenure on private and public lands, and lands protected by agricultural conservation easements.

We have specialized loan products to support farmers in adopting conservation practices and to facilitate agricultural conservation easements. We also work with conservation organizations to ensure farmers have access to technical assistance to plan for and implement climate-smart, regenerative, organic, and other conservation practices.

Our support for farm succession planning is intended to assist current landholders in ensuring their working lands remain productive and continue to provide economic opportunities, food, and ecosystem services for generations to come. We aim to ensure that successful farm businesses are sustained and agricultural lands are not lost to development.

A critical part of our ECWL work is advancing state and federal policy to support climate-smart agricultural practices and improve access to land tenure. We work with university researchers and other partners to understand the economics of conservation and climate mitigation practices and to translate those findings into practical, accessible decision-making tools and economic and technical support programs for farmers.

ECWL’s program services include:

Access to Land
We create opportunities for farmers and ranchers in California to secure affordable long-term access to farmland. Our custom-built Land Portal connects landseekers with landholders in an online community featuring land and businesses available for lease or sale. Landseekers can post a profile visible only to other members, and landholders can share opportunities while protecting their privacy. Learn more and sign up here to access the Land Portal. For a preview of current land opportunities see our publicly available directory of land opportunities.

Land Tenure Agreements
Our staff offer a full range of agreement-building services, working with clients to build or review equitable and secure agreements that benefit all parties, including land lease agreements, grazing contracts, and land or farm business buy-sell agreements. Our team supports farmers with pathways to land ownership, including land loans. Complete an Agreement Building Services Inquiry form to enter our pipeline. Many of our land tenure resources are available to you in the Land Access and Landholder Toolshed sections of our Resources directory.

Conservation Lending
We offer specialized loans to help farmers adopt conservation practices without undue financial hardship. Conservation loans are available to implement conservation plans created in partnership with your local Resource Conservation Districts, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Services, or another agency. The loan covers farmer’s implementation costs until the new practices improve profitability (usually through decreasing the need for inputs and/or increasing yields) or the farmers are reimbursed through Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Healthy Soils or other conservation programs.
We also work with land conservancies to provide bridge financing to secure the purchase of a property while a farmer waits for an easement to be finalized or when a farmer needs to sell land before a conservancy is ready to purchase an easement. This work is often done in conjunction with succession planning.

Conservation Planning and Technical Support
We collaborate with Resource Conservation Districts to provide conservation planning and technical assistance to our clients. This work helps farmers to assess their land and current practices and make specific plans for how they can adopt new conservation practices.
Assistance includes:
-help with technical specifications,
-budgeting for out-of-pocket costs, and
accessing incentive programs including expense reimbursements, tax credits, and payments for ecosystem services.

California’s precious agricultural lands are under constant threat. Typically land passes out of productive agricultural use upon the death or retirement of a farmer who has not created a succession plan designed to ensure that the land remains in agriculture. Our innovative program The Regenerator: A Year of Farm Succession Planning gives families and successors the legal, financial and inter-personal tools they need to successfully transition working lands to the next generation.

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