Farmers and Ranchers Speak Out in Support of Climate Smart Agriculture Investments

Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 by Renata Brillinger
In-person meetings are one way that CalCAN amplifies the voices of California’s farmers and ranchers, while another is through sign-on letters like the ones described in the blog post below. Pictured above: A rancher and farmer joined CalCAN staff and other partners in an April meeting with Assemblymember Monique Limón; From right to left, front row: Allegra Roth of Community Environmental Council, Allison Rowe of UC Cooperative Extension Ventura, Bonnie Atmore of Rancho Ventura Conservation Trust and Assemblymember Limón. In the back row, right to left: Renata Brillinger of CalCAN, Ed Seaman of Santa Barbara Blueberries, Helen McGrath of Flying M Ranch and Lauren Lum of CalCAN.

On May 20th, almost 200 farmers and ranchers in 41 California counties came together on a letter to state legislative leaders calling for increased investments in the state’s Climate Smart Agriculture programs.

They wrote out of “concern about climate change and its impacts on agriculture.” Further, they declared that they “stand ready to reduce GHG emissions and help avoid the worst impacts of a changing climate” and asked for their elected representatives to invest in “the unique and powerful opportunities agriculture has to sink carbon, reduce potent GHG emissions and adapt to a changing climate.”

The letter commended Governor Newsom for his proposed budget of $28 million for the Healthy Soils Program and called on legislators to meet or exceed that level in their upcoming budget proposals.

They went on to note that funding healthy soils alone is not sufficient for achieving the potential of agriculture to contribute to California’s net carbon neutrality goal, and made the following requests for increased funding:

State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program (SWEEP): $40 million

In allocating no funds to SWEEP, Governor Newsom’s budget misses an important strategy for not only reducing energy-related GHG emissions but also for better preparing our farms for future droughts.

Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP): $40 million

Governor Newsom’s budget allocates a total of $35 million for dairy methane reduction strategies, but this budget is shared by dairy digesters and only a fraction will likely be available for AMMP. The program funds improved manure handling and storage on livestock operations with the multiple benefits of reducing potent methane emissions, producing compost and improving rural community health.

Adaptation Tools for Farmers: $2 million

Farmers and ranchers are on the frontlines of climate change, which is already disrupting production for many. Funding to support adaptation planning tools and trainings for producers is needed to understand how to incorporate the latest climate science in their business and farm management plans.

In a second letter, 23 dairy producers from Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Del Norte and Humboldt counties focused on the need for robust investments in the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), calling on their representatives Senator Mike McGuire and Assemblymember Jim Wood to advocate for an increase over Governor Newsom’s proposed budget for the program.

The dairy families commented that “The upgrades funded by AMMP grants make our operations more efficient, cleaner, healthier for the cows, our workers and our communities, and can improve the environment overall.” And they noted that “demand and interest in the program are growing, and a drastic drop in funding as proposed by the Governor will slow momentum.”

Text of the two letters can be found here:

Climate Smart Ag investments letter from 200 farmers and ranchers

AMMP letter from dairy producers

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