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.

Governor Brown Issues Proclamation Declaring Real California Milk Month

Source: CDFA
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued a proclamation declaring June 2014 as “Real California Milk Month” in the State of California.

 

The text of the proclamation is below:

PROCLAMATION


California prides itself on its vibrant agricultural sector, of which the dairy industry forms a key part. Our dairy farms contribute in innumerable ways to the state’s economic prosperity. 

California’s dairy farmers’ hard work has made them leaders in the field. Their leadership has resulted in the annual production of over 40 billion pounds of milk, accounting for about twenty-one percent of the nation’s entire supply.

The landscape, economy, health, and nutrition of California would not be the same without our dairy farms. I urge all Californians to take time to appreciate the privilege of living in one of the world’s great dairy-producing regions, and to support our industry by buying milk and other dairy products from our Golden State.

NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim June 2014, as “Real California Milk Month.”

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 29th day of May 2014.

Citrus Growers Forced to Push Trees Due to Zero Water

Governor Brown issued an executive order on Friday to the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board to expedite approvals of voluntary water transfers to areas of need.

Citrus growers and communities within the Friant service area, however, are still without water despite the availability of additional supplies from recent storm events.

There have been many opportunities for the state water agencies to communicate with stakeholders the amount of water that will be delivered, yet they consistently fail to provide numbers.

A conference call was scheduled on Friday, but after being postponed twice it was cancelled.   “The lack of communication by Federal and State administrations to producers of fresh fruits and vegetables regarding future deliveries is unacceptable,” says Nelsen.

A vast majority of the Central Valley’s $1.5 billion citrus industry is located within the Friant Service Area. Due to the unwillingness of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to cooperate with State and Federal lawmakers and agencies, an estimated 50,000 acres of citrus in the Central Valley is at risk of being forced out of production.

We now know that because of the February and March storms there is sufficient supply to service the Friant Canal’s minimum needs of 200,000 acre-feet. However, “NMFS fails to realize the disastrous impacts of their unwillingness to reevaluate the actual needs of the fish and reach a balanced solution for all stakeholders,” says CCM President Joel Nelsen. “Growers are now being forced to make difficult decisions as the bureaucrats at NMFS fail to reach a decision of their own.”

Acres upon acres of valuable citrus trees have already been pushed out of production. But, it is not just trees that will be pushed if Friant does not receive water – jobs will be pushed, people will be pushed, and the economy will surely suffer.

California Citrus Mutual estimates that a loss of 50,000 acres will result in a $3 billion hit to the California economy. “This is not just about trees, it is a matter of public health,” continues Nelsen. “Unless our growers receive their fair share of water from the Friant Canal our communities will suffer without the economic driver of a vibrant citrus industry in the Central Valley.”

“I ask, is it worth sending excess amounts of water down the river at the expense of an entire industry and the 20,000 jobs it creates,” concludes Nelsen.

Gov. Brown Issues Executive Order to Redouble State Drought Actions

Governor Brown Doubles Down on Drought

 

With California’s driest months ahead, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order to strengthen the state’s ability to manage water and habitat effectively in drought conditions and called on all Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water.

“The driest months are still to come in California and extreme drought conditions will get worse,” said Governor Brown. “This order cuts red tape to help get water to farmers more quickly, ensure communities have safe drinking water, protect vulnerable species and prepare for an extreme fire season. I call on every city, every community, every Californian to conserve water in every way possible.”

In January, the Governor declared a drought state of emergency. Since then, state water officials say that reservoirs, rainfall totals and the snowpack remain critically low. Current electronic readings show the snowpack’s statewide water content at just 16 percent of average.

In the order, Governor Brown directs the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board to expedite approvals of voluntary water transfers to assist farmers. He also directs the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to accelerate monitoring of drought impacts on winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River and its tributaries, and to execute habitat restoration projects that will help fish weather the on-going drought.

To respond to the increased threat of wildfire season, the order streamlines contracting rules for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and CALFIRE for equipment purchases and enables landowners to quickly clear brush and dead, dying or diseased trees that increase fire danger.

The order also calls on Californians and California businesses to take specific actions to avoid wasting water, including limiting lawn watering and car washing; recommends that schools, parks and golf courses limit the use of potable water for irrigation; and asks that hotels and restaurants give customers options to conserve water by only serving water upon request and other measures. The order also prevents homeowner associations from fining residents that limit their lawn watering and take other conservation measures.

The order provides a limited waiver of the California Environmental Quality Act for several actions that will limit harm from the drought.  This waiver will enable these urgently needed actions to take place quickly and will remain in place through the end of 2014.

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