Farmers and ranchers grapple with the effects of climate change in their daily lives.

A growing body of research points to significantly tougher challenges ahead, including:

  • More frequent and extreme droughts and floods
  • Unpredictable weather patterns
  • Shifting diseases and pest and weed populations
  • Decreased winter chill hours
  • Increased heat stress on farmworkers and livestock

But farmers and ranchers are adaptive and resilient people. Given the appropriate information, tools and technical and financial support, they will find ways to adapt and become more resilient.

Many of the agricultural management practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions also improve agricultural resilience. For example:

  • Improving irrigation efficiency reduces energy use and nitrous oxide emissions  and reduces irrigation costs during water shortages.
  • Increasing soil organic carbon sequesters atmospheric carbon and increases the water infiltration and water-holding capacity of soils.
  • Preserving farmland prevents sprawling development and reduces flood risk for nearby cities.
  • Composting dairy manure reduces methane emissions and, when applied in agriculture, increases plants’ productivity and disease resistance.

The state of California has conducted considerable climate adaptation research, planning and information-sharing at the statewide level.

Funding for Adaptation Projects

In 2017, the legislature passed AB 398 (E. Garcia) which for the first time  included climate adaptation and resiliency as an eligible funding area for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) cap-and-trade allocations.

Following the passage of AB 398, the legislature allocated the first $26 million in the FY 2017-18 budget for a new Climate Adaptation Program administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board. CalCAN was among a coalition of natural and working lands groups that advocated for its creation.  The program funds natural and working lands conservation easements and adaptation planning, implementation, and technical assistance projects for, farmers, ranchers and other landowners.

Proposition 68, passed by voters in June  2018 included $443 million for a broad array of climate adaptation work through the Natural Resources Agency, including agricultural resiliency.

Legislation to Fund Adaptation Tools

Introduced in 2019 by Assm. Monique Limón, Assembly Bill 409 would provide funding for pilot projects in three regions of California to develop farm-level, science-based tools to support farmers and ranchers in facing climate impacts. The bill is based in part on the feedback CalCAN received in a series of listening sessions with growers, researchers and agriculture professionals to identify what they need to increase their resilience to increasingly unpredictable, extreme weather events, pests, heat waves and drought. Read more here…

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