With today’s budget announcement from Governor Gavin Newsom, Healthy Soils received another proposed boost in funding, increasing the program’s proposed funding to $28 million, up from $18 million in the Governor’s January budget. However, other Climate Smart Agriculture programs did not fare as well.
Water/Climate Smart Program Zeroed Out
The Governor failed to propose any funding for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), the state’s on-farm water use efficiency program. This despite the fact that this popular program continues to be oversubscribed. In March, nearly 350 farmers applied for SWEEP grants, seeking more than $27 million in funding. Without climate change investment funding, SWEEP will be out of funding by the end of this year. CalCAN is seeking $40 million for SWEEP.
Dairy Methane Cut
The Governor did propose an additional $10 million for dairy methane programs in his May revise budget. However, the outcome is an overall cut to funding for dairy methane programming because of earlier proposed cuts–down from $99 million in the current fiscal year (FY) to a proposed $35 million for FY ‘19-‘20. These funds are split between the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP) and the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP).
This comes after record high AMMP applications this spring with over 90 dairies and livestock operations seeking more than $54 million in project funds. CalCAN is seeking a budget line item for AMMP of $40 million.
Adaptation Left Behind
CalCAN is also seeking funding for climate change adaptation tools for farmers. The modest funding of $2 million would go towards developing adaptation tools to incorporate climate risks into business and farm management plans, pilot those tools and train agricultural professionals how to use them. The Governor did not include the adaptation tools funding in his budget.
Governor Newsom has made clear his passion for healthy soils. This central climate smart agriculture program offers multiple benefits to farmers and our environment, but we cannot afford to take a siloed approach to agricultural solutions to climate change.
We must embrace holistic strategies that include SWEEP 2.0 that achieves water savings and groundwater sustainability. We need climate risks tools for farmers that support agriculture’s viability and the state’s long-term food security. And we need a more comprehensive healthy soils approach that includes programs like AMMP that turn dairy manure into compost and CalRecycle’s waste diversion program that builds the compost facilities we need.
We will continue to advocate for the myriad of solutions California agriculture has to offer. Stay tuned on how you can join in the effort in the days and weeks ahead.