Governor Brown’s revised budget for May, released today, makes great strides in helping agriculture adapt to the ongoing drought and climate change. The Governor proposes to provide substantial assistance to farmers to increase their water efficiency, reduce greenhouse gases, build dairy digesters and increase soil resilience.
The State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) would receive $40 million in the Governor’s plan. The program has already made $20 million available in grants to financially assist farmers who want to invest in water distribution and irrigation systems that save water and greenhouse gases. So far, 156 projects have been funded, drawing additional matching funds of $7 million. The projected water savings from those projects is 317,000 acre-feet, and the estimated greenhouse gas reduction is 2.1 million metric tons. We’ll be able to leverage that success impressively with this new funding.
CDFA’s Dairy Digester Research and Development Program would receive $20 million in the revised budget. This is an increase of $8 million from the January budget proposal and is in addition to $12 million allocated to the program last year. This program provides grants to assist with the installation of dairy digesters in California. It’s a great start to what I hope will eventually become a much larger effort to invest in agriculture’s integration with the environment while maintaining or increasing productivity.
The Healthy Soils Initiative, assigned to CDFA in the Governor’s January budget, is appropriated $20 million in the May Revise. This will fund demonstration projects and incentives for growers using practices that can decrease the CO2 in the atmosphere by increasing soil’s ability to sequester carbon. These practices also increase water retention in soils.
These proposals demonstrate the Governor’s understanding of the important role agriculture plays in our efforts to adapt to drought and climate change, and they also stress the need to invest in and partner with our farmers and ranchers to make sure California continues to be a leading worldwide agricultural producer into the 21st Century and beyond.