Healthy Soils Program Guidelines to be Finalized

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel will host its next meeting on May 18, 2017 in Sacramento and will vote to finalize the Healthy Soils Program framework.

The Healthy Soils Initiative has five goals:

  1. Protect and restore soil organic matter in California’s soils.
  2. Establish a Healthy Soils Program that is implemented through the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel with funding from CDFA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and from the USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
  3. Provide for research, education, and technical support to facilitate healthy soils.
  4. Increase governmental efficiencies to enhance soil health on public and private lands.
  5. Promote interagency coordination and collaboration to support soils and related state goals.

The proposed framework of the program was unveiled in early 2017. Many organizations, farmers, and others submitted comments on the proposed framework. The comments, including CCOF’s, can be viewed online.

The Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel is not expected to make significant changes to the proposed framework. However, many groups, including CCOF, advocated for improvements to be made in the framework, such as competitive grant processes for demonstration projects.

CCOF’s comment also included information regarding long-established organic farming practices. Organic soil management practices have been documented to better sequester carbon, improve soil nutrient cycling, improve soil structure, reduce soil erosion, and provide healthier plants that are more resistant to crop diseases.

The meeting is expected to start at 9:30 a.m., with the option to stream the presentation online. More meeting information is to be released on the Healthy Soils website.