New Water Efficiency Technical Assistance Program Accepting Applications until 5pm PST, January 19, 2022
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced this month that it is developing a new program to support technical assistance to farmers and ranchers for on-farm water and energy use efficiency and nutrient management. The program requires that grant recipients prioritize assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and farms and ranches that are 500 acres or less.
Funds will support 1) on-farm, one-on-one technical assistance to help farmers evaluate irrigation system efficiency, 2) the coordination or provision of irrigation pump efficiency testing , and 3) farmer training on water use efficiency and nutrient management practices and technology.
The technical assistance will be provided at no cost to farmers and ranchers. Notably, the new program can pay for pump efficiency testing, which is a requirement in order for farmers and ranchers to apply to the State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program (SWEEP), though funds cannot be used to help farmers apply to or implement SWEEP or other CDFA Climate Smart Agriculture programs.
The guidance states that grants will be awarded through a competitive grant application process to eligible technical assistance providers, which includes Resource Conservation Districts; University of California, California Community Colleges, or California State Universities; non-profits; and federally and California-recognized Native American Indian Tribes.
Applicants must have demonstrated expertise in on-farm irrigation water and energy use efficiency standards, evaluation and implementation of efficient practices and/or on-farm nutrient management, and are encouraged to partner with groundwater sustainability agencies, irrigation districts, and/or water quality coalitions.
“This new program is going to benefit California farmers and ranchers broadly,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “We intend to see this program greatly expand access to critical technical assistance that will help farmers adapt for drought and climate resiliency.”
CalCAN is excited to see the new technical assistance program advance as it supports a number of the recommendations made as part of the SWEEP ad hoc advisory group, summarized in a previous blog post.
Eligible organizations may request up to $500,000 for a grant term of 36 months out of a total of $5 million allocated to the program, as outlined in the Request for Grant Applications.The program is currently accepting applications through Jan. 19, 2022 at 5pm PT. Applications will be reviewed once the submission deadline has passed and awards will be announced in February 2022, subject to possible timeline changes. . More information about the program and how to apply is available at CDFA’s page on WETA here.