The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) provides financial incentives to encourage farmers and ranchers to adopt climate-smart practices that help build on-farm resilience in face of a changing climate. These climate-smart agriculture programs include:
- The Healthy Soils Program (HSP), which incentives the implementation of soil building practices such as cover cropping and composting, with awards up to $100,000.
- The State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), which encourages farmers to install more efficient irrigation systems, with awards up to $200,000.
- The Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), which awards up to $750,000 to livestock producers who decrease their methane emissions by changing the way they manage manure.
These programs have become attractive to agricultural operations of all sizes by funding practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water use efficiency and increase on-farm profitability.
Technical assistance is critical to the success of CDFA's Climate-Smart Agriculture programs
CDFA's financial incentive programs provide much-needed financial support to agricultural operations, but the application process can be challenging for some growers. One-on-one technical assistance closes that accessibility gap.
Ten Climate-Smart Community Education Specialists are working across California to support growers from the early stages of applying to CDFA's incentive programs, to the implementation and verification of awarded projects.
By living and working in the counties they serve, the Community Educators are able to provide full-time technical assistance and outreach to local growers. They also engage in additional support activities, such as providing translation services, hosting field visits and grower consultations, developing implementation guides, providing computer access, and organizing workshops to showcase climate-smart practices.
They are now gearing up for the next cycle of applications, expected to open in the next few months. Stay tuned!
The Climate-Smart Impact
As of February 2023, our Educators have supported 427 climate-smart projects, totaling $37.1 million in awarded state funds.
The impact of these projects is removing more than 100,000 metric tons of CO2e annually. This is equivalent to removing 22,000 cars off the road each year. In terms of water, these projects are saving 2,500 ac-ft annually, equivalent to 1,250 Olympic sized pools.
Climate-smart practices are great for the environment and they also provide many benefits for farmers. Growers in the HSP program have noticed healthier soils on their farms, better water retention, and increased organic matter, among many other benefits. With SWEEP, growers have improved on-farm water efficiency and even decreased energy consumption. These farms are now more resilient, thanks to the climate-smart programs.