CDFA AWARDS $5.8 MILLION TO ASSIST FARMERS WITH WATER EFFICIENCY AND ENHANCEMENT

Announced TODAY, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $5.8 million for 70 different projects in the second phase of a program to implement on-farm water irrigation systems with increased water efficiency and enhancement to reduce water and energy use, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

The funding for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) is part of emergency drought Legislation (SB 103) signed in early 2014 by Governor Brown – authorizing CDFA to distribute as much as $10 million for eligible projects, in cooperation with the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board.

“These projects are essential to allow farmers to continue agricultural food production while at the same time providing ecosystem services that enhance the environment” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The result is the continuous improvement of our farming systems while at the same time providing multiple benefits, including water conservation and reduced GHG emissions.”

With this latest round of funding, a total of $9.1 million has been awarded for 155 different projects that have leveraged an additional $6.9 million in private cost-share dollars from grant recipients. The money comes from the state’s portion of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds. The proceeds are deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and appropriated to state agencies.

The funding will reduce GHG emissions through projects that include modifications to improve water efficiency like drip and microsprinkler systems; energy-efficient water pumps; soil moisture sensors; and irrigation scheduling programs that apply water based on crop needs.

This program is the first of its kind at CDFA and applies to its authority under the Environmental Farming Act of 1995, which states that the department should oversee an Environmental Farming Program to provide incentives to farmers whose practices promote the well-being of ecosystem and air quality.

More information on the SWEEP program can be found by visiting  www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/sweep.

Deadline Extended by Two Weeks for State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has extended its deadline for applications for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) by two weeks, until July 29, 2014.

An estimated $10 million in competitive grant funding, authorized by emergency drought legislation (Senate Bill 103), will be awarded to provide financial assistance to agricultural operations for implementation of water conservation measures that result in increased water efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Applications must be submitted electronically using FAAST by Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. PST.

Applicants must access the Application Guidelines for detailed information and program requirements. To streamline and expedite the application process, CDFA is partnering with the State Water Resources Control Board, which hosts an online application using the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST).

All applicants must register for a FAAST account at https://faast.waterboards.ca.gov.

Prospective applicants may contact CDFA’s Grants Office at grants@cdfa.ca.gov with general program questions.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste – visit  SaveOurH2O.org to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit  Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.

 

State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Built on Collaborative Partnerships

CDFA continues to accept applications for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, or SWEEP. The deadline to apply is July 15, 2014.

The program is designed to provide financial assistance to agricultural operations for the implementation of water conservation measures that increase water efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately $10 million has been made available for SWEEP through emergency drought legislation (Senate Bill 103).

Although CDFA is leading this effort, the development, implementation and success of this program is dependent on collaborative efforts across state and federal agencies and with multiple partners.

CDFA is working closely with the State Water Board and Department of Water Resources on several aspects of the program, including program design and the collection of applications through the State Water Board’s electronic application program, the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST).

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and the CDFA Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel have been valuable assets by providing guidance and feedback on many aspects of program design.

SWEEP requires a high level of technical expertise to review the applications. Irrigation experts from the Cal Poly Irrigation Training and Research Center, the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State and the University of California’s Cooperative Extension are partnering with CDFA to provide application technical review and recommendations for funding.

Verifying that projects are implemented at the farm level is a critical part of SWEEP. CDFA is partnering with the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, which regularly works with farmers and has conservation practice experience on irrigation systems, to verify the projects. 

SWEEP was implemented under the 1995 Environmental Farming Act, which recognizes that many farmers engage in practices that contribute to the well-being of ecosystems, air quality and wildlife, and states that CDFA shall provide incentives for those practices.