The emergency drought measure, SB 103, recently signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown includes $10 million in funding for on-farm water conservation practices. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is creating a grant fund called the Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program with the funding, and the program is expected to be implemented by July 1, 2014.
Two upcoming stakeholder meetings are being held by CDFA to discuss the new program and to consider public comments. Dates, times and locations for the meetings are as follows:
Friday, April 18, 2014
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Stanislaus County Agricultural Center Harvest Hall, Room DE 3
800 Cornucopia Way
Modesto, CA 95358
BACKGROUND. Due to the current drought, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has been allocated $10 million from emergency drought legislation bill signed last month by Governor Brown. The bill language for CDFA as the lead agency states “$10,000,000 shall be available for encumbrance until June 30, 2015, for consultation and coordination with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), to establish and implement a program, on or before July 1, 2014, to provide financial incentives to agricultural operations to invest in water irrigation treatment and distribution systems that reduce water and energy use, augment supply and increase water and energy efficiency in agricultural applications.
Incentives shall be ranked and distributed based on financial need, immediacy of water supply increased and efficiency gained to address water shortages, and reduction in water pumping or treatment that uses energy causing greenhouse gas emissions.” The money is intended to provide financial assistance to farmers to implement water conservation and energy saving measures on farms throughout the state.
The overall program will be implemented as part of the Environmental Farming Act of 1995 (Sections 560-568 of the Food and Agricultural Code). The overall objective of the Science Panel is to advise and assist federal, state, and local government agencies on issues relating to air, water, and wildlife habitat at the interface of agriculture.
One of the primary tasks is to identify incentives that encourage agricultural practices with environmental benefits; “The program shall provide incentives to farmers whose practices promote the well-being of ecosystems, air quality, and wildlife and their habitat” (Sections 566 [a] of the Food and Agricultural Code). Consistent with this mandate, the Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program will provide financial incentives to promote water and energy supply through efficiencies and address water shortages stemming from the 2013-14 drought.