Agriculture, Climate Change & the Next California Governor

Posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2018 by Jeanne Merrill

Farmers & Agriculture Experts
Tell New California Governor
It’s Time to Scale Up Climate Smart Agriculture

In a new report released today, farmer leaders and agriculture experts call on the next Governor of California to embrace sustainable agricultural solutions to climate change. With just a week leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit hosted in San Francisco, the report brings attention to the pressing need for state action to scale up transformative agricultural solutions to climate change.

The California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), a coalition of the state’s leading sustainable and organic agriculture organizations and farmer leaders, released the report entitled Climate Threats, Abundant Solutions: Climate Change and Agriculture Recommendations to the New California Governor. It offers policy recommendations to the new Governor, who will take office in January, to address the threat of climate change to the state’s agriculture.

“A changing climate puts the future of California agriculture and our food security on the line,” said Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director with CalCAN. “To keep farmers on the land, meet our climate goals and maintain our food security, the next Governor must scale up sustainable agricultural solutions to climate change.”

California’s recently released Fourth Climate Change Assessment found that climate change threatens to undermine California agriculture’s ability to produce key crops if the worst impacts of a changing climate are not avoided.

“More and more farmers are embracing a ‘climate smart’ approach to production,” said Rich Collins of Collins Farm and board chair of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. “Restoring the role of agricultural soils as a sponge for both carbon and water will keep California farmers on the land for many generations to come.”

California farmers and ranchers produce more renewable energy on their farms than farmers in any other state. And they are among the first in the country to embrace Climate Smart Agriculture. Under Governor Brown’s leadership, a suite of programs was launched to save water and energy on farms, protect at-risk agricultural lands, increase carbon sinks in agricultural soils and reduce potent methane emissions from dairies and livestock operations.

Since 2014, the state has invested over $400 million in Climate Smart Agriculture programs, which have resulted in permanently protecting nearly 80,000 acres of at-risk farmland and funded 735 on-farm projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The suite of projects is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 42 million metric tons over the life of the projects and save more than 28 billion gallons of water. However, with 76,000 farms and ranches in a state that leads the country in vegetable, fruit, nut and dairy production, there is plenty of opportunity to scale up these solutions. The CalCAN report provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for actions the Governor can take to catalyze many powerful agricultural climate solutions.

“Our dairies want to adopt alternative manure practices that reduce methane, save water and help them meet environmental regulations,” said Mike Griffin with Organic Valley, a dairy farmer co-op. “But we need adequate resources to make the transition and reach the many dairy producers here on the North Coast and throughout the state.”

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