The state of California currently has four Climate Smart Agriculture programs that provide resources for California farmers and ranchers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon in soils and trees, while providing multiple benefits to agriculture and the environment. The programs are funded with proceeds from the state’s cap-and-trade program. For more on “climate smart agriculture” click here.
Below is a summary of the state’s climate smart agriculture programs and a timeline of policy developments, including CalCAN’s role and influence since 2010.
California Climate Smart Agriculture Programs
Healthy Soils Initiative (HSI) – The Healthy Soils Initiative was proposed by Governor Brown in 2015, and was funded by the legislature at an initial $7.5 million during FY 2016-17. The Initiative will provide funding for farmer and rancher incentives to increase carbon storage in soils and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions through practices that build healthy soil such as compost application, cover crop, reduced tillage, conservation plantings and more. The program will also fund on-farm demonstration projects to provide growers, researchers and other agriculture professionals strategies for mitigating climate change in agriculture. Read More…
Total funding allocated to date: $7.5 million
State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program (SWEEP) – The program funds growers to improve their irrigation management practices to save water and energy and reduce related greenhouse gas emissions. Eligible project activities include pump upgrades and solar pump installation; conversion to drip or micro irrigation; improved water storage and/or recycling, soil moisture monitoring and irrigation scheduling. Read More…
Total funding allocated to date: $60 million
Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALCP) – The program funds local government projects and permanent easements on agricultural lands at risk of development to prevent sprawl. Read More…
Total funding allocated to date: $46.5 million
Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP) – The program funds anaerobic digesters on dairies and related research to reduce methane emissions from the dairy sector. It received $12 million in FY 2015-16, and this was increased to $50 million in FY 2016-17. CalCAN advanced language that was approved by the legislature in 2016 identifying a diversity of methane-reducing techniques including dry manure management strategies, open solar composting, and pasture-based dairying. Read More…
Total funding allocated to date: $67 million
CalCAN continues to advocate to make these important programs accessible to a wide diversity of California growers. We summarize the above programs, including the available funding from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, in this fact sheet.
Climate Smart Agriculture Timeline
June 2016 — The legislature agrees on a 2016-17 cap-and-trade budget totaling $900 million. It funds the Healthy Soils Program for the first time with $7.5 million. CalCAN successfully proposes language in a budget trailer bill that guides the implementation of the Healthy Soils Program and identifies the opportunities for reducing methane emissions on dairies using diverse strategies beyond a sole focus on anaerobic digesters.
June 2016 — CalCAN submits comments to CDFA to provide recommendations on their draft framework for the Healthy Soils Initiative.
May 2016 — CDFA releases a draft framework for the Healthy Soils Initiative and proposes how it would spend almost $18 million for on-farm practices and demonstration projects that improve carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, funding has not yet been secured. SB 1350 is held in suspense in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
April 2016 — CalCAN and over 30 agriculture experts submit comments to CDFA to provide input on the Healthy Soils Initiative design and implementation.
February 2016 — Senator Wolk introduces SB 1350, a bill establishing the Healthy Soils Program, backed by CDFA.
January 2016 — Governor Brown, for a second time, proposes funding a Healthy Soils Initiative with $20 million from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund in FY 2016-17.
December 2015 — A diverse coalition of conservation, transit, housing, environmental justice, business and sustainable agriculture groups came together to call on Governor Brown and legislative leaders to finish the job of investing in climate change solutions in our communities.
August 2015 — The legislature delays a decision to allocate over $1 billion in cap-and-trade funds for a range of climate change programs, including the Governor’s proposed Healthy Soils Initiative. SB 367 is held in Assembly Appropriations.
March 2015 — CalCAN releases its “Blueprint for a California Program on Agriculture and Climate”, outlining the framework for a state program to incentivize, demonstrate and research soil building and other climate-friendly farming practices.
February 2015 — Senator Wolk introduces SB 367, co-sponsored by CalCAN and our coalition partner, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. The bill supports the Governor’s proposed Healthy Soils Initiative budget and updates the Environmental Farming Act of 1995. SB 367 garners strong bi-partisan support in both the Senate and the Assembly, and a long list of supporters (see below).
January 2015 — In his inaugural address and budget, Governor Brown proposes $20 million to launch a landmark program called the Healthy Soils Initiative. Using cap-and-trade funds, it would incentivize farming practices that increase the soil organic matter in California’s agricultural lands, resulting in GHG reductions, carbon storage in soils and multiple co-benefits. This proposal echoes the intent of Senator Wolk’s CalCAN-sponsored bills from 2010-12. CalCAN releases “Growing Solutions: Climate Change and Agriculture Recommendations to the California Governor”.
2014 — CalCAN successfully advocates for a new focus on agricultural solutions to climate change, including organic farming systems, in updates to the AB 32 Scoping Plan, which outlines how California will meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. CalCAN shares the results of its Blueprint interviews with members of Governor Brown’s administration.
2013 — CalCAN is a founding member of the Natural and Working Lands Coalition, which advocates for state investment in agricultural and natural resource solutions to climate change. Coalition founding partners include The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, California ReLeaf and Pacific Forest Trust. CalCAN initiates the Blueprint for a State Climate Change and Agriculture Program project, including interviews with dozens of farmers, researchers and other agricultural professionals.
September 2012 — Governor Brown signs AB 1532, a bill supported by CalCAN and a coalition of agriculture and environmental partners, authorizing eligible investments of cap-and-trade funds, including sustainable farming and ranching practices that reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon.
2011-12 — Senator Lois Wolk re-introduces the Agriculture Climate Benefits Act as SB 237. Though support for the bill increases, the bill does not pass out of the Senate.
2010 – Senator Lois Wolk introduces the CalCAN-sponsored SB 1241, the Agriculture Climate Benefits Act. SB 1241 describes the eligible uses of cap-and-trade funds for research and demonstration, technical assistance and financial incentives for agricultural practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support climate change adaptation. The bill passes out of Senate Agriculture and Environmental Quality Committees, but does not clear the Senate Appropriations Committee.