Investments in Climate Smart Agriculture Delayed

Response times may be slow due to the wildfires affecting Santa Cruz County and Covid-19. Organic compliance deadlines and inspections will be delayed for businesses affected by these crises. Read the latest updates on the Northern California wildfires, and visit our Covid-19 webpage to find pandemic-specific information »

Los tiempos de respuesta serán lentos debido a los incendios forestales afectando al condado de Santa Cruz y COVID-19. Los plazos de cumplimiento orgánico y las inspecciones se retrasarán para los negocios afectados por estas crisis.  Lea las últimas actualizaciones sobre los incendios forestales del norte de California y visite nuestra página web de Covid-19 para encontrar información específica a la pandemia »

This week the California State Legislature sent the fiscal year 2016-17 budget to Governor Jerry Brown without deciding how the state would spend billions in climate change investments. Among the programs waiting for a decision on funding are the Healthy Soils Initiative, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), the Dairy Methane Program, and the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program. What gives?

The cap-and-trade program was created under California’s climate change law, AB 32. Cap-and-trade limits greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the biggest polluters in the state and requires that they hold “allowances” in amounts equal to their GHG emissions. The cap on GHG emissions declines over time and so do the allowances that industry can hold. Regulated entities under the program must buy a portion of their allowances from state auctions.

The proceeds from those auctions are used by the state to fund activities that reduce GHG emissions and provide multiple benefits to our communities, including improved air and water quality and increased resilience to a changing climate. CalCAN recently released a report on SWEEP, in which we explore how farmers are using those funds to conserve water and energy, thereby reducing GHG emissions.

In May, the auction for the cap-and-trade program raised only $10 million in proceeds—down considerably from the anticipated $500 million. While there are a lot of theories as to why the auction did not go well, the upshot is that some in the legislature are now wondering what to do next. Budget leaders will take up the question of climate investments this summer.

CalCAN has joined with others in the environmental and conservation communities calling for climate investments now. California has billions in the bank that it can invest now to fund tangible projects that not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also make our communities healthier.

More information on this topic and how to take action is available on the CalCAN website.


This article was written by Jeanne Merrill.

Jeanne Merrill is the Policy Director of the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), a coalition of sustainable agriculture organizations that advances policy solutions at the nexus of climate change and agriculture. She has over 20 years of experience in agricultural, environmental, and energy policy advocacy at the state and national levels. Prior to her time with CalCAN, Merrill was the Associate Policy Director with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in Wisconsin. Merrill is a member of the Organizational Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. She holds a B.A. in political science from the University of California, San Diego, and a M.S. in land resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alameda, California.