While all Californians are impacted by climate change, climate change does not affect all people and communities in the same way.

Climate equity (or justice) ensures that the people and communities who are least culpable in the warming of the planet and most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change do not suffer disproportionately as a result of historical injustice and disinvestment. Farmworkers, underserved farmers of color, women farmers and disadvantaged rural communities are most disadvantaged in our current agricultural system and also most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.

At the same time, the on-the-ground, frontline experience of farmers of color and their communities with climate impacts make them important partners and resources in developing climate solutions and responses. CalCAN advocates for proactive and targeted policies and investments that benefit these communities.

Climate Equity Policy Advancements

The following policy arenas are some that CalCAN tracks and engages with at the nexus of climate change, agriculture and equity.

Technical Assistance FundingA CalCAN-sponsored bill (AB 2377) was introduced in 2018 by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018. This program allocates funding for technical assistance for three Climate Smart Agriculture programs. Each grant awarded designates a 25 percent set-aside for specifically serving socially-disadvantaged producers. In 2019, this amounted to more than $500,000 earmarked for these farmers.

Funding Priority for Socially-Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers — After persistent advocacy by CalCAN and partners, CDFA included a priority in its SWEEP and Healthy Soils programs for grants to farmers of color and women.

Farmer Equity Act — Passed in 2017, AB 1348 (Aguiar-Curry) was sponsored by the Farmer Justice Collaborative and supported by CalCAN. It builds racial and gender equity priorities into the CDFA’s responsibilities, executive staff structure, advisory committees, and programs. CalCAN will continue to track the implementation of this bill to ensure that all of California’s farmers have equitable influence on and access to government resources, including the state’s climate policies and programs.

Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants — AB 60 (Alejo, 2013) and AB 353 (Cedillo, 2011) allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses and stopped the practice of impounding cars of drivers without a valid license.

Addressing Farmworker Heat Stress — SB 1360 (Padilla, 2014) clarifies required heat recovery periods for workers.

Agricultural Workers Vanpools — A vanpool pilot program was launched in early 2018 and current legislation (AB 2006, Eggman) would establish the program in statute.

Low-Income Home Weatherization Program — This program was created in 2014 and has since invested $192 million in energy efficiency upgrades for nearly 9,000 single-family homes, solar installations for nearly 3,000 single-family households, and solar installations and/or energy efficiency upgrades for 4,500 multi-family housing units—all in disadvantaged communities and with a focus on farmworker housing. This program received $25 million for FY 2021-22 due to the advocacy of CalCAN and our AB 125 coalition partners. Read more here

Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Passed in 2020, AB 3121 (Asm. Weber) established an eight-member task force to study slavery and lasting discrimination and recommend reparations remedies for African Americans.

Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems (C.R.I.S.E.S.) Program Passed in 2021, AB 118 (Asm. Kamlager) establishes a pilot grant program to make grants for community organizations that support responses to local emergencies such as community violence, public health crises and climate disasters.

Farmer Resource Center Grant Program Passed in 2021, AB 941 (Asm. Bennett) establishes a grant program for counties to create farmworker resource centers that provide farmworkers and their families information and access to services related to education, housing, payroll and wage rights, and health and human services.

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