Budget, Legislature Act to Support Sustainable Agricultural Solutions to Climate Change

Posted on Friday, May 13th, 2016 by Jeanne Merrill

Sacramento has seen lots of important action recently on climate change and agriculture issues:

Today, Governor Jerry Brown released his May revise budget. The updated state budget proposal holds the line on climate smart agriculture funding, keeping with what the Governor proposed back in January with $115 million for new and existing climate smart agriculture programs. (More details below.)

Also this week: the Healthy Soils bill, Senate Bill 1350, was amended following successful negotiations between California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) and California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Senator Lois Wolk, author of the bill, and her staff brokered the discussions and were crucial to the groups finding common ground. (Details on the recent amendments to the bill are below.)

On Tuesday, CalCAN released its progress report on the state’s climate smart agriculture and drought program, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP). Click here if you want to see how farmers are responding to the program and how your county ranks in terms of SWEEP funding.

Budget – Climate Smart Agriculture Investments:

Governor Brown’s May Revise budget maintains his January proposal for climate-smart agriculture funding, including:

CalCAN will continue to advocate in support of the Governor’s climate-smart agriculture package.

Call your Senator and Assemblymember to let them know you support climate-smart agriculture programs in the budget. The message is simple: “I’m calling to support (name the programs – Healthy Soils, SWEEP, etc.) funding in the budget. These programs provide crucial resources for farmers and ranchers to address climate change.” Give your name and town/city. Find your Senator and Assemblymember by clicking here.

Organic producer John Teixeira holding his compost.
Organic producer John Teixeira holding his compost.

Healthy Soils – Senate Bill 1350:

SB 1350 updates the Environmental Farming Act of 1995 and establishes the Healthy Soils Program, a climate-smart agriculture program, at CDFA. In April, the bill passed with bi-partisan support out of the Senate Environmental Quality and Senate Agriculture Committees. Members of both committees asked Senate Wolk to work with stakeholders and CDFA to provide more details on the Healthy Soils program. The recent amendments do just that, including:

  • SB 1350 increases the membership of the Environmental Farming Act Scientific Advisory Panel (EFA SAP) from 5 to 7 members. The new members include one member with training and field experience in climate change and agriculture, one member who is a certified organic producer and another member with expertise in conservation planning and management. This expertise will be crucial as the SAP takes on providing input on the development and implementation of the new Healthy Soils Program.
  • SB 1350 defines the Healthy Soils Program, which will provide incentives and resources to support agricultural management practices and on-farm demonstration projects that increase soil carbon storage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new amendments provide for greater clarity on the parameters of the program and define healthy soils as “soils that soils that enhance their continuing capacity to function as a biological system, increase soil organic matter, improve soil structure and water- and nutrient-holding capacity, and result in net long-term greenhouse gas benefits”.

The bill goes next to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it will likely be placed on the suspense file. We will know by the end of this month if the bill survives and moves on to the Senate floor for a vote sometime between May 31 – June 3rd.

Want your Senator to support Healthy Soils? Call them today. The message is simple: “California farmers have solutions to offer for climate change. We need resources like the Healthy Soils Initiative. Please support Senate Bill 1350.” Give your name and town/city. Find your Senator by clicking here.


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