Soil Wealth Areas

Place-based Financing for Conservation, Rural Communities, and Regenerative Agriculture

Joshua Humphreys, Jaime Silverstein, Anna Aspenson, Lauren Manning

Contributors: Sharlene Brown, Christi Electris, John Fenderson, David LeZaks, Athena Owirodu, Susan Paykin, and James Smith

November 2022

This report summarizes the results of a major USDA-funded assessment of the feasibility of developing a new place-based financing district in four states across three regions with very different kinds of farming communities, agronomic conditions, and policy environments: North Carolina in the South, Northern California and Oregon on the West Coast, and Wisconsin in the upper Midwest.

Building upon the success of other agricultural districts, such as conservation districts and farmland protection districts, Soil Wealth Areas are special purpose soil wealth improvement districts that can become magnets for investment in regenerative agriculture, enhanced conservation on working farms and forests, and resilient rural economies. By being based in place, Soil Wealth Areas can be more responsive to the needs of local producers and entrepreneurs and help ensure that capital providers interested in investing in conservation and regenerative, organic value chains are aligned with the imperatives of more ecologically resilient and socially inclusive food and agricultural systems.

The report makes specific recommendations for implementing Soil Wealth Areas in each of the regions analyzed and creating a wider Soil Wealth Community for practitioners to share learnings about their experiences with place-based financing.

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