A picture is worth 1,000 thank you’s

Posted on Tuesday, December 15th, 2020 by Renata Brillinger
Sunset over green grasslands of California – Credit Malcolm Carlaw

In a year that brought so many challenges and losses, at CalCAN we are grateful and privileged to continue advancing policies that unleash powerful agricultural solutions to climate change. The work continues because of you—farmer and rancher leaders, policymakers and their staff, scientists, agriculture experts, funders, and environmental, farmworker, food and environmental justice advocates.

We have some images below that tell stories and illustrate our gratitude for our shared accomplishments in 2020. As you enjoy these images and stories, we hope you will feel inspired to make a donation to CalCAN.


Meet the New Members of CalCAN’s Advisory Councils

Devii Rao, is the UC Cooperative Extension livestock advisor for San Benito, Monterey, Santa Cruz Counties. She is particularly interested in strategies for mitigating wildfires using prescribed grazing.
Helen McGrath grows avocados, citrus and mixed row crops at Flying M Ranch/Ditch Ranch in Ventura County. She has been a participant in several CalCAN focus groups and workshop panels.
Steven Cardoza farms organic raisin grapes with his father Dwayne at Cardoza & Cardoza Farming Co. in Fresno County. Steven has shared his experiences with the Healthy Soils Program and is always willing to add his voice to support climate smart agriculture policy.
Steve Fukagawa operates Steve Fukagawa Farms in Kings County, growing organic stone fruit and grapes. He has attended CalCAN-organized meetings with his state elected officials and recently joined the SWEEP technical advisory panel.
Ellee Igoe is co-owner of Solidarity Farms, a diversified vegetables and livestock operation San Diego County. Ellee collaborates with the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians on a Healthy Soils Program grant and recently shared their experiences with Senator Atkins’ office and at a Healthy Soils Program briefing, both organized by CalCAN.
Kristen Murphy is the Program Manager at the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts whose members are effective technical assistance providers on climate smart agriculture, partnering with CalCAN in numerous ways.
Ruth Dahlquist-Willard is the Fresno-based UC Cooperative Extension Small Farms Advisor, working with Hmong, Latino and Black farmers in the region. Ruth and her team have provided technical assistance to dozens of farmers of color and shares her insights generously to help us advocate for more equitable Healthy Soils and SWEEP program design.
Tapan Pathak is at the UC Merced Cooperative Extension and specializes in agricultural climate adaptation. Tapan’s tool AgroClimate is an important resource for helping farmers plan and adapt to the impacts of extreme weather caused by climate change, and he has testified in the legislature in support of funding to build more tools like it.

Farmer & Rancher Leaders

We are grateful for the hundreds of trailblazers around the state who are integrating many practices on their farms and ranches that teach us how regenerative agriculture and ecological land stewardship works on the ground. This year, we published some of these stories, found here on our website.

Coalition & More Coalitions!

CalCAN Coalition

The strategic direction and policy priorities that shape CalCAN’s work is guided by a seven-member coalition of organizations focused on sustainable and organic agriculture. We benefit from their expertise, networks, commitment and vision.

To the left are coalition members at our 2019 retreat:
Dave Henson, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
Dave Runsten and Paul Towers, Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Andy Fisher, Ecological Farming Association
Jane Sooby, California Certified Organic Farmers
Jo Ann Baumgartner, Wild Farm Alliance
Rebecca Spector, Center for Food Safety
Reggie Knox, California FarmLink

National Healthy Soils Policy Network

A policy workshop with the National Network members
For three years, members of farmer-centered organizations from what is now 23 states have been sharing resources on healthy soils legislation and campaign strategy. Members have received $100,000 in mini-grants to support farmer engagement in policy, and in 2020 we organized a dozen workshops about state healthy soils campaigns led by our members.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

CalCAN is a member of NSAC, a coalition that advocates for federal policy on sustainable agriculture and food systems. One of our coalition achievements this year was the collection of over 2,000 farmer and rancher signatures on a letter calling on Congress to tackle climate change. We are grateful to NSAC for its leadership on the Agriculture Resilience Act that lays out a vision for a climate resilient agriculture sector.

Legislative Leaders

Though the two bills CalCAN sponsored or supported this year did not pass, we are grateful for the legislators that authored them as well as a few others who championed bills we supported.

Assemblymember Monique Limón authored AB 1071 which would have established a pilot program to fund on-farm climate adaptation tools and trainings. Though the bill did not pass due to pandemic-related barriers, Assemblymember Limón was a staunch champion during both years she ran this bill. Pictured right are CalCAN staff and partners with Asm. Limón (in purple) in 2019 after a hearing on the bill.

Assemblymember Mark Stone introduced AB 2482 to improve the impact of the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) and prioritize funding for small farms and farmers of color. Though the bill did not pass, CDFA is launching a panel of experts to discuss improvements.

Assemblymember Rivas tried to get AB 2954 passed to require climate change targets and policy pathways for the state’s forests, farms and wetlands but was heavily opposed by conventional agriculture, the building industry, and the Chamber of Commerce. Another Rivas bill, AB 2043, did pass and strengthens employer notifications for farmworkers on coronavirus protections. We look forward to working more with the Assemblymember in his new role as chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. Pictured right is Assm. Rivas at a CalCAN farm tour in 2019.


CalCAN is funded by generous foundations, individuals and businesses. We have been deeply appreciative of the continued generosity of our donors and moved by a few that not only increased their donations but made multiple year commitments to give us the security we need to plan ahead.

Will you become one of our donors to help us continue amplifying stories and partnerships like these to catalyze policy change?

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