Farmers and ranchers grapple with the effects of climate change in their daily lives.

A growing body of research points to significantly tougher challenges ahead, including:

  • More frequent and extreme droughts and floods
  • Unpredictable weather patterns
  • Shifting diseases and pest and weed populations
  • Decreased winter chill hours
  • Increased heat stress on farmworkers and livestock

On-Farm Resilience

But farmers and ranchers are adaptive and resilient people. Given the appropriate information, tools and technical and financial support, they will find ways to adapt and become more resilient.

Many of the agricultural management practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions also improve agricultural resilience. For example:

  • Improving irrigation efficiency reduces energy use and nitrous oxide emissions  and reduces irrigation costs during water shortages.
  • Increasing soil organic carbon sequesters atmospheric carbon and increases the water infiltration and water-holding capacity of soils.
  • Preserving farmland prevents sprawling development and reduces flood risk for nearby cities.
  • Composting dairy manure reduces methane emissions and, when applied in agriculture, increases plants’ productivity and disease resistance.

The state of California has conducted considerable climate adaptation research, planning and information-sharing at the statewide level.

Funding for Adaptation Projects

In 2017, the legislature passed AB 398 (E. Garcia) which for the first time  included climate adaptation and resiliency as an eligible funding area for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) cap-and-trade allocations.

Following the passage of AB 398, the legislature allocated the first $26 million in the FY 2017-18 budget for a new Climate Adaptation Program administered by the Wildlife Conservation Board. CalCAN was among a coalition of natural and working lands groups that advocated for its creation.  The program funds natural and working lands conservation easements and adaptation planning, implementation, and technical assistance projects for, farmers, ranchers and other landowners.

Proposition 68, passed by voters in June  2018 included $443 million for a broad array of climate adaptation work through the Natural Resources Agency, including agricultural resiliency.

Legislation to Fund Adaptation Tools

In the Fall of 2018, CalCAN conducted an extensive listening tour with over 60 farmers and ranchers, researchers and agriculture professionals in 12 regions of the state to ask them what climate impacts on agriculture they are experiencing, how they are coping, and what resources they need to adapt and remain viable.

Assembly Bill 1071, authored by Assm. Monique Límon (D-Santa Barbara), would provide funding for pilot projects in three regions of California to develop farm-level, science-based tools to support farmers and ranchers in facing climate impacts. The bill is based in part on the feedback CalCAN received in a series of listening sessions with growers, researchers and agriculture professionals to identify what they need to increase their resilience to increasingly unpredictable, extreme weather events, pests, heat waves and drought.

AB 1071 is a continuation of an effort by CalCAN and Assm. Límon, carried over from 2019 when we sponsored a very similar bill (AB 409) which received unanimous bipartisan support in every committee. However, in its final hearing, the bill was voted down, along with several other bills pertaining to climate adaptation.

Read the bill language here, and see a support letter signed by 27 organizations here.

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