State Bill to Launch California Climate & Agriculture Program

CalCAN is excited to announce our leadership in a newly introduced state bill called the Agriculture Climate Benefits Act, or Senate Bill 367. The bill was introduced by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Yolo County), and is co-sponsored by CalCAN and our coalition partner, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF).

SB 367 promotes ‘climate-friendly’ agricultural practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or store carbon. It creates a new statewide competitive grant program, to be administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, that would receive $50 million in cap-and-trade money to incentivize on-farm management practices with climate benefits. SB 367 also directs $20 to $30 million to the existing Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, which protects farmland from urban development and funds ‘climate-friendly’ pilot projects on farms.

These programs will have a dual impact, producing climate benefits while better preparing farms to deal with drought, extreme weather events, and other effects of climate change. Demonstration projects will also produce data that improves our understanding of which practices and systems are the most effective, economic and feasible in California agriculture.

SB 367’s programs are supported by scientific evidence that conserving farmland can limit urban sprawl, and that farm management practices to improve soil health, conserve water and energy, generate renewable energy, and create wildlife habitat all have significant and measurable climate benefits.

Agriculture is among the only sectors that can actually draw down greenhouse gases and store them in soils and plants. These agricultural climate solutions are needed to meet the state’s goals and prevent dangerous levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. By investing a portion of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds in on-farm demonstration projects, California can help innovative growers, researchers and technical assistance providers promote the widespread adoption of farming practices with the greatest climate benefits.

The bill has the support of numerous agriculture and environmental organizations, as well as farmers from around the state.

On April 7, SB 367 was considered in the Senate Agriculture Committee. It passed with a unanimous bipartisan vote, and will be heard next on April 15 in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

For more information and to learn how you can help, please go to http://calclimateag.org/sb-367/.

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This article was written by Renata Brillinger, the Executive Director of the California Climate and Agriculture Network.

 

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