State Legislature Passes Climate Smart Agriculture Bill with Strong, Bi-Partisan Support

This week the state Senate passed AB 2377 on a 39-0 vote. The bill now heads to Governor Brown’s desk. The legislation is authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) and sponsored by the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN).

Asm. Irwin, José Robles, and CalCAN staff and partners after the Senate Ag Committee vote. From left to right: Poojan Thakrar, Brian Shobe, Asm. Jacqui Irwin, José Robles, Jeanne Merrill, Noah Lakritz, Kara Heckert, Lauren Lum. Behind the Camera: Amy Winzer.

AB 2377 represents an important step forward in improving the delivery and reach of the state’s Climate Smart Agriculture programs. The bill is supported by a diverse group of 37 agriculture, conservation and environmental organizations and businesses.

What does AB 2377 do?

AB 2377 recognizes the integral role technical assistance plays in improving Climate Smart Agriculture program participation and project implementation. The bill requires that 5 percent of the annual budgets for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), and Healthy Soils Program are used to establish a technical assistance grant program at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

CDFA can provide grants of up $100,000 annually, for up to three years, to technical assistance providers like Resource Conservation Districts, Cooperative Extension and nonprofits to support SWEEP, AMMP, and Healthy Soils farmer applicants. Under AB 2377, technical assistance includes program outreach, project design, application assistance, project implementation and reporting.

Importantly, AB 2377 prioritizes technical assistance for small and moderately-scaled farms and ranches and requires at least 25 percent of available technical assistance funds to be provided to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as defined by the Farmer Equity Act of 2017.

AB 2377 represents a significant investment in technical assistance for farmers, which will allow for much more robust support to develop and implement Climate Smart Agriculture projects in the state.

What’s Next? 

The bill heads to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature. He has until the end of September to act on the bill. You can weigh in with Governor Brown by sending him a message about your support for AB 2377 by clicking here. Scroll to the bottom of the page to leave an email message and select either Food & Ag issues or AB 2377 in the “Please Choose Your Subject” drop-down menu.

The message is simple: “Governor Brown, your support for Climate Smart Agriculture is critical to the future of farming in California. I urge your support for AB 2377 (Irwin).”

Your calls, letters, emails and meetings with members have made all the difference in advancing AB 2377 with such strong support. Thank you!

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