Equity & Conservation on Working Lands (ECWL)
The ECWL program supports farmers in obtaining secure land tenure, getting support to adopt or expand conservation practices, and planning for business succession.
Land Access & Conservation Loans
We create opportunities for farmers and ranchers in California to secure affordable, long-term access to land.
There are many different approaches to land tenure. Landseekers and landholders may not know all the possibilities. We maintain outreach and partnerships to identify land opportunities.
People can join our custom-built Land Portal which connects landseekers with landholders in an online community featuring land and businesses available for lease or sale.
Since 1999 we have worked to identify equitable opportunities for underserved farmers and ranchers to access land despite the high costs and vast complexities of land use in California.
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 sale-of-business agreements.
Many farmers and ranchers cannot access public conservation programs due to upfront costs. We aim to help remove this barrier, especially for small farms, immigrants, and farmers of color. We offer conservation loans to help farmers and ranchers adopt conservation practices without undue financial hardship.
California’s precious agricultural lands are under constant threat. Too often land passes out of productive agricultural use upon the death or retirement of a farmer who has not created a succession plan.
Without adequate succession planning, viable farms and ranches are at risk of being lost. We aim to help alleviate that risk in order to help preserve successful businesses while creating new opportunities in agriculture.
Our innovative course, The Regenerator: A Year of Farm Succession Planning. gives farm families and successors the legal, financial, and inter-personal tools they need to successfully transition working lands to the next generation.
Conservation Planning & Technical Assistance
We collaborate with Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) to provide conservation planning and technical assistance to our clients. This work helps farmers and ranchers to assess their land and current practices and make plans for adopting new conservation practices.
Technical assistance includes:
- Help with technical specifications for various practices,
- Budgeting and financing for out-of-pocket costs, and
- Accessing conservation programs with federal and state agencies, tax credits, and payments for ecosystem services.
Why conservation planning?
Expanding conservation practices requires planning with confidence. But too often beginning, limited-resource and underserved farmers are unable to access financial support for conservation practices. We can help to streamline the process.
We ask that you have a current management and/or decision-making role in an ag business; two or more years of farming experience (earning farm income as an owner or employee), and significant field experience or training.
How to inquire about these services
We’re building a diverse, multi-lingual referral network of RCDs and other agencies and professionals. Please email us to inquire.
Resilience & Wealth Building
People we work with have poured years of their lives into establishing farm, ranch, or fishing businesses. Each is an asset supporting healthy local food systems, yet oftentimes these business owners have little time to step back and plan for making their businesses sustainable for the long run. We have designed our educational courses and benefits to support people in creating more resilient businesses. We help participants focus on their business's balance sheet, in part to understand the current value of the business, but also to establish goals and tactics to build wealth over the long term.
Every day we aim to learn from the challenges, insights and day-to-day experiences of people we serve. We have designed Resilience and Wealth-Building to partner with clients in strengthening their businesses. At its program is the 10-week Resilerator course (known as Resilerador in Spanish). It offers a comprehensive business curriculum designed for people with at least two years’ experience as business owners. The courses are offered separately in English and Spanish to provide an optimum learning environment. Past graduates often serve as guest instructors to enhance peer-to-peer learning.
People who graduate from the course (aka Resilerators and Resileradores) are eligible for follow-up workshops and expert assistance to help in their continued quest for optimal planning and management of their farm, ranch, or fishing businesses.
Access to knowledge, along with capital, land and infrastructure, is fundamental to creating business resilience.
Business Resilience Course
Our 10-week Resilerator course is based on a comprehensive business curriculum designed for farmers, ranchers and fishers. It’s like a business accelerator, but the emphasis is on generating long-term resilience rather than short-term profits. One course is conducted in English and another is in Spanish.
Workshops & Clinics
When people complete the course, they are eligible to attend bookkeeping clinics and occasional workshops free of charge. The workshops focus on more advanced topics such as tax treatment of businesses, accounting for value-added production, or calculating full costs of production.
Our work is rooted in one-on-one relationships with clients to meet their business needs, for example, creating a lease or cash flow projection.
One-on-One Technical Assistance
Course graduates are eligible for one-on-one technical assistance provided by FarmLink staff members and advisors, and occasionally other professionals in fields such as accounting or law, depending on resources available.
Our mission-based loan programs provide equitable access to affordable business loans for California farmers, ranchers, and fishers.
Recovery & Resilience Loans
With the generous support of funders and social impact investors, special loans are available to eligible course graduates, farmers of color, and low-income farmers and fishers. These loans are offered at 0% interest with no fees to help clients invest in building resilience so their businesses can reliably overcome future challenges.
California FarmLink occasionally carries out special projects that complement or integrate our core programs. These projects represent opportunities to create new program strategies, help advance our peers doing similar work, or inform public policy with our unique experience.
Demonstrating a Pathway to Job Quality Gains for Small Farm Labor in California
How can we support small farmers to be great employers?
Our programs offer an integrated business education, technical assistance and professional referral network to support business skills development that preserves long-term wealth. This means coaching farmers to think through long-term wealth creation through asset acquisition and debt reduction, while managing the capital and land required to realize wealth generation. Managing the job quality of farm labor is a fundamental aspect of developing small farm business viability.
The current shortage of farm labor across California and rural America places considerable constraints on the agricultural sector as a whole, and can make or break a small farm business. Seasonal requirements for harvest and cultivation activities demand the timely mobilization of farm labor for the business to cash flow and fill orders. This work is made possible with support from the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities partnership.
How We Measure Project Impact
Job Quality Curriculum
Incentives and Solutions
access to capital
Systemic Change in Access to Capital for Limited-Resource and BIPOC
How can we empower others to replicate our model?
We will grow the impact and scale of our lending to limited-resource and BIPOC farmers; hone and develop lending processes and educational programs to better serve these farmers; and share an emerging model for agricultural community development financing. As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), we broke new ground by creating a small business support model for organic, beginning and Latine farmers, with a comprehensive financing program, from micro-capital to land purchase loans. This model has potential for replication and expansion, to create solutions for BIPOC farmers across the United States. This work is made possible by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
How We Measure Project Impact
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