Bill to Help Farmers Fight Climate Change Signed by the Governor

Assembly Bill 2377, authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown earlier today. This bill funds technical assistance for farmers and ranchers seeking to transition to Climate Smart Agriculture.

Asm. Irwin, José Robles, and CalCAN staff and partners after the Senate Ag Committee vote. From left to right: Poojan Thakrar, Brian Shobe, Asm. Jacqui Irwin, José Robles, Jeanne Merrill, Noah Lakritz, Kara Heckert, Lauren Lum. Behind the Camera: Amy Winzer.

“As California continues to lead the way in climate change, it’s imperative that we assist all industries so that they adopt practices that will help achieve our climate goals,” said Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin. “I’m grateful that the governor saw the need to improve these programs as a vital piece of hitting our climate objectives.

California is the nation’s leader in food production and contributes significantly to our global food security and state economy. California has over 77,000 farms and ranches which are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. California’s Climate Smart Agriculture programs provide important financial resources to encourage farmers and ranchers to adopt farm management practices that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestering to help meet the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

The bill requires that 5 percent of the annual budgets for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), and the Healthy Soils Program be used to establish a technical assistance grant program offering grants of up to $100,000 dollars annually for up to three years. The bill prioritizes technical assistance for small and moderately-scaled farms and ranches and requires at least 25 percent of the technical assistance funds available to be provided to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

“With the signing of AB 2377, California is once again demonstrating leadership in making Climate Smart Agriculture practical and feasible for farmers and ranchers throughout the state,” said Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director with the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN).

AB 2377 was supported by a diverse group of agriculture, conservation and environmental organizations.  Here were their reactions today:

“California vintners and growers address environmental challenges, including climate change, on a daily basis and are committed to expanding their efforts. AB 2377 sets aside critical technical assistance resources to ensure the design and implementation of Climate Smart Agricultural programs are maximized.” —Tim Schmelzer, Vice President, California State Relations, Wine Institute

“Many California farmers are already doing their part on climate change. AB 2377 provides the resources to scale that up. This bill will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions from farmland and more carbon stored in agricultural soils.”— Judith Redmond, Co-owner, Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA

“It is critical that California farmers who have historically had the least access to grants which incentivize climate resilient agriculture are given a fair share. AB 2377 sets aside funds specifically targeting under-served farmers of color to ensure they are not overlooked in the future as the state invests in agricultural climate solutions.”— Moretta Browne, Farmer Justice Fellow, Pesticide Action Network

“The reliable funding that AB 2377 provides for technical assistance providers to work with farmers on Climate Smart Agriculture projects will go a long way towards realizing the potential climate solutions available on our working lands.”— Karen Buhr, Executive Director, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts

“The funding for technical support for farmers that AB 2377 provides will improve access to the state’s Climate Smart Agriculture programs and also ensure high-quality, well-designed projects that maximize their many environmental and health benefits.” — Neil Edgar, Executive Director, California Compost Coalition

The bill passed through the Senate 39-0 and the Assembly 79-0 earlier this year.

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