The Healthy Soils Program offers producers incentives to adopt GHG-reducing soil health practices. The program also funds on-farm demonstration projects. Healthy soils store carbon and improve crop yields, drought and flood tolerance, and air and water quality. CalCAN and our partners have been leading advocates for this program. It is coordinated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
Year launched: 2017
Budget for FY 2021-22: $75 million
Grants awarded to date: $41.5 million
Total projects funded: 646
CDFA estimated greenhouse gas reductions over 3 years: 109,809 metric tons CO2
Status of grant rounds: Five rounds completed. The Healthy Soils Program accepted applications until February 25, 2022.
Healthy Soils Program Popularity
Farmer and rancher demand for the Healthy Soils Program has grown significantly in recent years, as demonstrated by the graph below. As of April 27, 2022, only the demonstration project awards had been announced, totally $1.1 million.
Healthy Soils Program History
In his January 2015 inaugural address, Governor Brown announced the launch of a new Healthy Soils Initiative, a collaboration of state agencies and departments to promote the stewardship of healthy soils. This initiative was long championed by CalCAN and our partners.
In 2016, the legislature passed Senate Bill 859, which established the Healthy Soils Program, building upon previous legislative work by CalCAN. The bill:
- Defined healthy soils as “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”
- Assigned the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel to advise CDFA on the Healthy Soils Program and State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program
- Almost doubles the size of the Advisory Panel from 5 to 9 members and adds members with (1) expertise in climate change and agriculture science and practice; (2) expertise in agriculture conservation planning and management; (3) farmer members, including a certified organic producer
That same year, Governor Brown proposed the program receive $20 million from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (derived from cap-and-trade revenue), but the state legislature allocated only $7.5 million. The program has since received another $15 million from a combination of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and Proposition 68. CalCAN continues to advocate for this program’s funding and provides input to CDFA as it implements and refines the program.