State Budget Leaders Debate Investments in Agriculture, Food, Climate: Contact Governor Newsom, Budget Leaders Now

Posted on Monday, August 23rd, 2021 by Jeanne Merrill

State Budget Leaders Debate Investments in Agriculture, Food, Climate

This month the legislature and the Governor’s administration will take up final budget packages for agriculture, climate change, drought, and wildfire. This unusual budget process has gone beyond the June deadline for budget passage because of the state’s significant budget surplus.

What is ultimately included in these final budget packages will make the difference in whether or not the state advances multi-year funding for Climate Smart Agriculture programs, allowing farmers and ranchers to scale up their efforts to address the climate crisis, as well as investments in new, innovative food and agriculture projects to combat hunger, address the safety and wellbeing of farmworkers, and develop our regional food economies.

Please consider contacting our Assembly and Senate leaders along with Governor Newsom to support investments in agricultural solutions to the climate crisis.  Click here for more information.

General Fund Budget Bills Include Healthy Soils, SWEEP, and More

SWEEP funded pump Xiang Pao Her and Michael Yang UCCE
SWEEP funded pump with farmer Xiang Pao Her and Michael Yang of UCCE Fresno

Two budget bills, AB 128 and SB 129 were signed by Governor Newsom in June and July.  The bills include initial investments in programs like Healthy Soils and outline the funding levels of outstanding budget packages to be negotiated. Here’s what has been funded to date in the agriculture and food investment areas that we are tracking:

AB 128:

  • State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP):  $40 million in one-time General Fund with a focus on irrigation management projects that improve water use efficiency in depleted groundwater basins.  The request for applications will likely go out this October.
  • UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR): Provides an increase of $32 million in ongoing work.

SB 129:

  • Healthy Soils Program: $50 million in one-time General Fund for healthy soils management projects, including demonstration projects and technical assistance. Like SWEEP, the request for applications will likely go out this October.
  • Joe Serna, Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant Program: $50 million in one-time General Fund.
  • Technical assistance, CDFA: $5.4 million in one-time General Fund for technical assistance for underserved farmers and ranchers.
  • Alternatives to agricultural burning in the San Joaquin Valley: $180 million in one-time General Fund to CARB to be granted to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to support non-combustion incentives for alternatives to agricultural burning.
  • Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP): $500,000 in one-time General Fund.

Trailer bill language also includes $100 million for schools in California to purchase small equipment to assist with the production of school meals. AB 125, the bond measure that CalCAN is co-sponsoring with 14 other food, agriculture, and environmental justice groups, supports efforts like these to improve healthy food access but would go further by funding food infrastructure investments like new school kitchens.

Budget Packages Still to Come

In the final month of the legislative session, which wraps up on September 10th, budget leaders will be negotiating $2.5 billion in General Fund dollars for outstanding budget packages, which includes an additional $200 million for agriculture, $440 million for climate resilience, $730.7 million for water and drought, and $438 million for forests and wildfire prevention, in addition to other outstanding budget packages.

The legislature and the Governor will also finalize a multi-billion dollar Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund expenditure plan, which could provide much-needed, multi-year funding for Climate Smart Agriculture programs like Healthy Soils, SWEEP, Alternative Manure Management, and more.

Priorities for Advancing Climate-Resilient Farms and Food Systems

As we noted in our May blog on the Governor’s proposed budget, many of his budget proposals will advance resilient farms and food systems. Our recent budget letter with our AB 125 coalition partners outlines what additional investments are needed.  You can read that here.

Contact Assembly and Senate Leaders, Governor Newsom

Now is the time to contact legislative leaders and Governor Newsom to support critical investments in agricultural solutions to the climate crisis. You can read more here about quick and effective actions you can take.

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