SACRAMENTO – Reflecting our shared vision of a Healthy Soils Program that maximizes producer participation and impact, CalCAN submitted comments today on behalf of 25 organizations to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for its draft Request for Grant Applications (draft RGA). CDFA is currently accepting comments through September 12th and plans to release the official application for the next round of the program in November.
Farmers and ranchers faced a number of challenges in applying to the first round of the Healthy Soils Program in 2017, resulting in insufficient applications to use the full $7.5 million in the program’s budget.
In response to stakeholder feedback, CDFA has proposed some significant improvements in its latest draft RGA, which was released in late July. These improvements include:
- Removing the 3rd year cost-sharing requirement
- Extending the application period from six weeks to eight weeks
- Planning for a November through January application period
- Adding 12 new practices to the program (see the list of new practices here)
But there are still a number of ways the program must be improved in order to achieve its full potential and improve the likelihood of full subscription of its significantly increased funding.
Here are some of the highest priority recommendations from our joint comment letter:
- Allow previously awarded Assessor’s Parcel Numbers (APNs) to be eligible for new practices within the APN
- Remove or revise unnecessary short essay questions from the application
- Drop Demonstration Type A Projects; focus program on maximizing practice adoption
- Make it easier to get advanced payments to minimize cashflow challenges
- Replace the 120-farmer participation requirement with SMART goals for demonstration projects
Now’s the Time to Share Your Feedback with CDFA
As we wrote about a couple weeks ago, CDFA is offering a unique opportunity to provide feedback on the Healthy Soils Program and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) at three upcoming listening sessions:
- Northern California – August 30, 2018, 9:00 am to noon
Butte County Farm Bureau
2580 Feather River Blvd.
Oroville, CA 95965
- Southern California – August 31, 2018, 9:00 am to noon
Imperial County Farm Bureau
El Centro, CA 92243
- Central California – September 4, 2018, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Fresno County Farm Bureau
1274 W. Hedges Ave.
Fresno, CA 93728
Can’t make them in-person? Join by webinar on September 4!
Webinar participation will also be available on September 4 for those unable to travel to any of the listening sessions in-person. Register for the September 4 webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/519454765226725891
CDFA also accepting written comments through September 12:
Comments regarding the DRAFT RGAs can be submitted to email@example.com no later than 5:00 p.m. PST on Wednesday, September 12, 2018.