Help Available for Farmers Applying for Irrigation/Energy Efficiency Grants

As mentioned in our recent post, grant applications for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) are now being accepted (deadline is March 14). SWEEP provides financial assistance for farmers and ranchers to implement irrigation systems that save water and energy while reducing greenhouse gases on California agricultural operations.

Conversion to subsurface drip irrigation and installation of soil moisture and weather sensors (in distance) are two eligible projects for SWEEP funding. Photo: Martin Burger, UC Davis

This week, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced an additional 22 grant application assistance workshops for farmers interested in applying to the program. The workshops are being hosted mostly by local Resource Conservation Districts and Extension staff. You can find a schedule of the workshops here: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/sweep/docs/2017-SWEEP-TechnicalAssistanceWorkshopLocations.pdf

Workshops are being offered in the following counties:

  • Northern CA: Butte, Trinity, Tehama
  • Central CA: Fresno, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura
  • Southern CA: Imperial, San Diego

If you’re a farmer and interested in making water and energy efficiency improvements to your irrigation system, we strongly recommend you consider attending one of these workshops.

The SWEEP application is intensive. These workshops are intended to make the program application more accessible. We also recommend reaching out to your local conservation, agricultural, and irrigation professionals for advice.

Changes to This Year’s Application

For those who have applied in the past and are considering applying again, there are a couple changes to note in the application.

First, the maximum grant award has been reduced from $200,000 to $100,000. We were pleased to see this change based on our analysis that average per-project GHG emission reductions are similar across award funding size, and that smaller awards result in more farmers participating in the program. More on SWEEP recommendations here: 2016 SWEEP Progress Report.

Second, CDFA has updated the Water Savings Calculator (now called the Irrigation Water Savings Assessment Tool) to reflect suggestions to make it more user-friendly. We think the revised tool is an improvement (with better instructions and more logically ordered spreadsheets), but still think there is room to improve both the tool and the application process as a whole.

To that end, we welcome comments about the tool and revised application from farmers and those working with farmer applicants. Please email brian@calclimateag.org with your feedback and thoughts.

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