Last week, California voters turned out to the polls for the state primary election. Two propositions on the ballot have positive implications for the nexus of climate and agriculture in the state.
Proposition 68 Passes
Proposition 68 passed, allocating $4 billion worth of bond funding to state and local parks, environmental protection and restoration projects, water infrastructure and flood protection projects, and agricultural conservation and climate solutions. Importantly, the bond includes funding for two of the state’s Climate Smart Agriculture programs. $10 million from the bond will be allocated to the Healthy Soils Program and $20 million will fund SWEEP, the State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program.
Thanks to the advocacy of CalCAN and our partners, the bond also allocates $20 million to California’s Farmlands Conservancy Program to permanently protect vital farmlands at risk of development. And $30 million will support agriculture adaptation to support farmers in increasing on-farm resilience to the many climate-related challenges they face with extreme and unpredictable weather patterns, drought and new pest and disease problems.
While we celebrate these successful funding allocations, we also urge the Governor and state legislature not to mistake this one-time funding source as a sufficient replacement for ongoing budget allocations. For critical programs like Healthy Soils and SWEEP to realize their full potential and meet growing demand, we need consistent funding that farmers can depend on.
Prop 70 Does Not Pass
Proposition 70, which did not pass, would have required a one-time two-thirds vote in the year 2024 by each chamber of the California State Legislature about how to budget revenue from the cap-and-trade program (as opposed to the simple majority currently required). Revenues would have been put into a reserve fund, unable to be allocated until the super majority vote was achieved. Had Prop 70 passed it would have presented an unnecessary barrier and potentially a delay in making ongoing climate investments in agriculture, transportation, housing, forest management and more—investments which are critical for addressing the climate crisis.
To date, the cap-and-trade program has provided the state approximately $5 billion in climate investments. In May, Governor Brown proposed another $1.3 billion for the coming fiscal year.