CDFA Accepting Applications for Conservation Agriculture Planning Grants Program

Posted on Monday, August 1st, 2022 by Brian Shobe
PT Ranch’s Carbon Farm Plan Inventory. Carbon Farm Plans are eligible for funding through the new Conservation Agriculture Planning Grants Program (CAPGP). Learn more about PT Ranch at:

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting grant applications for the Conservation Agriculture Planning Grants Program (CAPGP) administered by its Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation (OEFI). The application period will close on October 23, 2022, at 5 p.m. PT.

CAPGP is a new program which will fund the development (not implementation) of plans that will help farmers and ranchers identify actions for climate change mitigation and adaptation, further environmental stewardship on farms and ranches, and ensure agricultural food security for the future. Detailed information, including application processes and program requirements can be found here.

CAPGP was established by the Budget Act of 2021 (Senate Bill 170, Skinner), which appropriated $17 million to CDFA for the new program, after years of advocacy by CCOF, the Carbon Cycle Institute, American Farmland Trust, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, CalCAN, and others to increase support for conservation planning technical assistance and to increase the volume of shovel-ready, on-farm projects that could be funded by local, state, and federal conservation and climate incentive programs.

CDFA will host two webinars to review the program requirements and application materials. Click the links below to sign up:

  1. Wednesday, August 3, 2022 01:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
  2. Wednesday, August 17, 2022 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Below, we highlight some key elements of the new program and share additional background:

Eligible Applicants & Minimum Qualifications

  • Farmers and ranchers – in collaboration with qualified experts that meet minimum qualifications criteria
  • Technical Service Providers (TSPs) registered by the United StatesDepartment of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource ConservationService (NRCS)
  • Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs)
  • Pest Control Advisors (PCAs)
  • Certified Rangeland Managers (CRMs)
  • Tribes
  • Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs)
  • University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources(UC ANR) and Cooperative Extension (UCCE)
  • Public universities such as University of California (UC), CaliforniaState University (CSU) and community colleges
  • Non-profits, including ag industry non-profits
  • Agricultural cooperatives
  • Groundwater sustainability agencies.

Applicants must have demonstrated technical expertise in the implementation of agricultural conservation practices that are included in any proposed plans for farmers and ranchers. To meet minimum qualifications, applicants must either be a Technical Service Provider (TSP) certified by USDA NRCS or provide documentation demonstrating qualifications pertaining to the development of specific plans and their proposed agricultural conservation practices. Applicants will provide a resume or C.V. and any certifications relevant to the plans for development. Applicants will also provide justification of how their education, experience and certifications make them qualified for developing the plans indicated. See the “Minimum Qualifications Criteria” in the program guidelines for more details.

Eligible Plans

Applicants may request up to $250,000 to prepare conservation agriculture plans in the following categories:

  • Agricultural Energy Design Plans
  • Carbon Farm Plans
  • Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans
  • Fish and Wildlife Habitat Plans
  • Grazing Management Plans
  • Irrigation Water Management Plans
  • Nutrient Management Plans
  • Organic System Plans
  • Pollinator Habitat Plans
  • Pest Management Conservation System Plans
  • Soil Health Management Plans

Important Note: Plans that are not completed by USDA NRCS certified Technical Service Providers may not be eligible for implementation funding by USDA NRCS programs. If farmers and ranchers wish to use the completed plans to seek funding opportunities through USDA NRCS, please consult with a local NRCS office.

Payment Rates

This is a reimbursement program with cost incurred first by the awardee and invoices submitted to CDFA for reimbursement, although advanced payments of up to 25% may be provided with appropriate justification. Reimbursement will be based upon a flat payment rate established for each type of plan (See Appendix A in the program guidelines). To further incentivize the development of eligible plans, CDFA’s payment rates have been increased to approximately double the NRCS rates. 

$6 Million Set-Aside for Organic Transition/System Plans

$6 million will be reserved for plans that support organic transition (Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition (CPA 138), Organic System Plan or Transition to Organic (DIA 140). The idea for CAPGP evolved out of a proposal led by CCOF in 2020 to create an organic transition option in CDFA’s Healthy Soils Program. In recognition of this, the legislature set aside $7 million out of the $17 million total allocation in 2021 to fund organic transition support for farmers and ranchers. That appropriation is already funding a $1 million partnership between CDFA and the University of California Organic Institute to provide technical assistance to farmers and ranchers related to organic transition. The remaining $6 million will fund plans for organic transition, including Organic Systems Plans.

Priority for Historically Underserved Farmers (25% minimum)

CDFA aims to expend 25% of the planning assistance funds to benefit Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (SDFRs). For this reason, CDFA will prioritize CAPGP applications that meet minimum qualifications of SDFR farmers or non-farmer applicants that commit to expending 25% of the funding to provide planning assistance to SDFR farmers.

Selection Process

Proposals meeting the minimum qualifications will be selected for funding based upon the order they were submitted and priority considerations. CDFA will prioritize funding proposals that will provide at least 25% of all planning grant assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (SDFRs). 

Online Application

The CAPGP application must be submitted online through an electronic application submission platform. The application materials and portal can be found here.

CDFA’s Timeline for Questions & Responses

General questions regarding the solicitation process may be submitted to Responses to all questions received by email will be posted to CDFA’s CAPGP website according to the following schedule:

Questions Received By: 

              Responses Provided By: 

August 19, 2022 

              August 26, 2022 

September 16, 2022 

              September 23, 2022 

October 12, 2022 

              October 19, 2022 


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