Final Cap-and-Trade Budget Includes Climate-Friendly Farming

Source: Renata Brillinger; CalCAN

After months of speculation and debate, Governor Brown and California’s legislature have agreed on how to allocate a total of $872 million in cap-and-trade auction proceeds as part of the state’s FY 2014-15 budget package.

We are pleased to report that the persistent efforts of CalCAN and many partners have yielded results—the deal includes investments in farmland conservation and in agricultural practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon.

“It is encouraging to see that the Governor and legislators recognize that agriculture can play a part in addressing California’s climate crisis,” said Rich Rominger, a Yolo County farmer and Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture under Governor Brown’s first tenure. “It is important that agriculture is included from the start of the state’s investments in climate change solutions.”

Most of the cap-and-trade funds go to high-speed rail, clean transportation and land use planning projects known as “Sustainable Communities Strategies.” However, the budget includes over $30 million for agricultural projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Of that, $15 million will support agricultural energy and operational efficiency projects.

$10 million will fund agricultural water use efficiency projects at the farm level, approved in this year’s drought package. Of the $130 million that will go to implementing regional Sustainable Communities Strategies, $6.5 million will go towards agricultural land preservation as a component of integrated land use and transportation projects.

“Many farmers and ranchers want to do their part to protect the environment and climate, whether it’s conserving energy and water, reducing our carbon footprint or producing renewable energy,” said Julie Morris of Morris Grassfed Beef in San Benito County. “With funding for research, technical assistance and financial incentives, it will be easier.”

The deal also specified that high-speed rail, transit and Sustainable Communities Strategies will receive 60 percent of the future funds in on-going, continuous appropriations. The remaining 40 percent, which could reach billions of dollars in future years, will be allocated annually as part of the regular budget process.

This is a good start, and CalCAN will keep working to ensure that the money funds innovative solutions with multiple environmental and health benefits. We will also continue to advocate for larger investments over time in sustainable agriculture and farmland conservation to support farmers and ranchers in addressing one of the biggest threats to California agriculture.

Click here for a joint statement on the cap-and-trade budget deal from a coalition of natural and working lands organizations, including CalCAN.

SUPPORT NEEDED FOR AB 1961 TO PRESERVE FARMLAND FOR GENERATIONS

SUSTAINABLE FARMLAND STRATEGY ACT (AB 1961) INTRODUCED TO PRESERVE FARMLAND

 

Announced TODAY, CalCAN is a proud co-sponsor of a bill introduced on Feb. 19th by Assembly Agriculture Chair Susan Talamantes Eggman — the Sustainable Farmland Strategy Act (AB 1961). The bill recognizes the significance of the state’s farmland resources by requiring counties to complete a Sustainable Farmland Strategy. It is co-sponsored by CalCAN, Community Alliance with Family Farmers and American Farmland Trust.

farmscape-credit-CAFF-300x199
photo credit: CAFF

 

“The Sustainable Farmland Strategy Act acknowledges that our agricultural land in California is a finite resource that is critical for our economy and our food security,” said Assemblymember Talamantes Eggman. “This bill highlights the need to discuss at the local level how we can maintain our agricultural land for generations to come.”

 

The bill requires that counties with significant farmland resources inventory their agriculturally zoned land, describe their goals and policies to retain farmland and mitigate for its loss and compile that information on the county website. Counties with less than four percent of their land base in agriculture are not required to complete a Sustainable Farmland Strategy.

 

“We cannot continue to lose farmland at the rate we’re going,” said Jean Okuye, Merced County farmer and President of the Merced Chapter of the California Farm Bureau Federation. “I welcome the opportunity this bill creates at the local level to discuss how our county can support our farmers and keep a thriving agriculture on the land.”

 

California is the most diverse and productive agricultural state in the United States with sales in 2013 topping nearly $45 billion. The state’s farms and ranches supply the majority of the country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables and are leading suppliers of dairy products. Despite this, over the past 30 years, the state has lost an average of 30,000 acres, annually, of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses.

 

Counties have jurisdiction over the majority of the state’s agricultural land and play a vital role in regulating the use of land, including the conservation of agricultural lands through zoning and planning activities. The Sustainable Farmland Strategy is intended to be a complement to the state’s Williamson Act, which provides tax incentives for landowners to keep their land in agriculture.

To find ways to express your support for AB 1961, go to the CalCAN website. 

 

The California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) brings a sustainable agricultural perspective to climate change and agriculture policy. Our efforts are aimed at increasing funding for research, technical assistance and financial incentives for farmers whose practices reduce GHG emissions, sequester carbon, and provide many environmental co-benefits. Moreover, we aim to build capacity among sustainable agriculture advocacy organizations and our farmer members to engage in climate change debate. CalCAN represents sustainable agriculture organizations and allied groups that work directly with California’s sustainable and organic farmers.