CalCAN Press Release • January 9, 2014
Governor Brown Invests in Sustainable Agricultural Climate Solutions in State Budget
Farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates are encouraged by the investment in climate-friendly agricultural practices and farmland conservation in Governor Brown’s budget draft for fiscal year 2014/15, released this morning.
The budget includes a total allocation of $850 million from the state’s cap-and-trade program, including $100 million of the $500 million the Governor borrowed last year from the program. While the bulk of the allocations go to high-speed rail, clean transportation and energy efficiency, cap-and-trade investments will also go towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions by investing farmland conservation and agricultural management strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut energy and water use and sequester carbon in soil.
“California farmers have real climate solutions to offer,” said Jeanne Merrill, CalCAN Policy Director. “We are pleased that Governor Brown recognizes the importance of investing in sustainable agricultural solutions that are win-win solutions that benefit farmers, our environment and all Californians.”
Under the proposed budget, the spending categories that will benefit farmers are as follows:
- $100 million to implementing regional Sustainable Community Strategies that include agricultural land preservation as a component of integrated land use and transportation planning
- $50 million for water infrastructure and watershed projects, which will support water use efficiency in agriculture and watershed protection
- $20 million for agricultural management strategies that improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
“This is good news in terms of farmland conservation which is critical for sustaining California food production and the long-term viability of family farms,” said Dave Runsten, Policy Director of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers.
September 2012: Governor Brown signs AB 1532
Good news! On September 30, 2012, Governor Brown signed into law two important climate bills, Assembly Bill 1532 (authored by Assembly Speaker John Pérez) and Senate Bill 535 (authored by Senator Kevin De León). Together, they put in place a fair and transparent public process for investing public funds from California’s new greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade program.
Thanks to a coalition of sustainable agriculture organizations, farmers and environmental allies, sustainable farming and ranching practices that reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon are among the eligible activities for funding. Future funding for farmers and ranchers to address climate change will make all the difference in supporting sustainable food and farming in California in the years to come.
CalCAN has been leading the effort to include sustainable agriculture in AB 1532, arguing that sustainable farming and ranching practices can provide climate benefits, as well as provide a host of other environmental and health benefits.
There is more work to be done to assure that these funds are allocated to the most effective and innovative sustainable agricultural practices. Join CalCAN in assuring that the state’s farmers and ranchers get the support they need to address climate change through research, technical assistance, financial incentives and farmland protection.
2011 Legislative Session: The Agriculture Climate Benefits Act (SB 237)
In 2011, Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) introduced a bill that was sponsored by CalCAN, describing the important role that California agriculture can play in providing climate solutions and providing guidelines for the eligible uses of cap and trade funds that are allocated to agriculture — specifically for research and demonstration, technical assistance for agricultural producers and processors, and financial incentives for agricultural practices and technologies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, support climate change adaptation and provide environmental and health co-benefits.
SB 237 passed out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee with a 5-2 vote on April 4, 2011. It was held over in the Senate Appropriations Committee in mid-January 2012.
The Agriculture Climate Benefits Act, SB 237, authored by State Senator Lois Wolk, recognizes the need for agricultural solutions to climate change. SB 237 defines the eligible uses of funds designated to California’s agriculture sector from implementation of the state’s climate change law, including:
- Research and demonstration to examine the farming practices, systems and food processing that reduce GHG emissions, sequester atmospheric carbon and adapt to climate change.
- Technical assistance for producers and processors that communicates research findings into real opportunities for California agriculture to provide voluntary GHG reductions and adaptation activities.
- Incentives to overcome barriers to agricultural practices that mitigate and adapt to climate change while providing environmental and health co-benefits, including improved air and water quality, enhanced wildlife habitat and water conservation.