California Governor Proposes Historic Funding
for Sustainable Agriculture as Key Partner in State’s Recovery
On May 14, 2021, Governor Newsom rolled out his California Comeback Plan marking unprecedented and historic one-time funding investments. This comes after a year of unprecedented moments from a global pandemic, record-breaking wildfires, and increased momentum to build equity across multiple segments of society.
AFT has been working virtually alongside stakeholders to ensure farmland protection, sustainable practices, and the people who make it happen – farmers and ranchers – receive the support needed to tackle climate resiliency and promote equity across our food systems.
Last January, the Governor released his budget with measured proposals that sought to elevate California sustainable agriculture with modest investments to build momentum for key programs.
This month, AFT is thrilled to see California on the verge of seizing this extraordinary opportunity to use surplus budget monies to coordinate comprehensive investments in sustainable agriculture across the state.
The Governor has recommended historic funding for sustainable agriculture programs, while also adding significant investments for equity, food systems, drought resiliency, and climate smart agriculture programs.
One investment area that was overlooked is farmland conservation.
The Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program funding remains level, however funding for the California Farmland Conservancy Program remains flat with diminishing bond monies available to accelerate farmland protection.
In a state that loses 50,000 acres per year, we believe California must do better.
The California Comeback Plan includes:
- $5.1 Billion investment over four years for drought infrastructure, preparedness, and response to ensure a more climate resilient system.
- $531 Million package to advance climate smart agriculture, improve drought resiliency, fund alternatives to agricultural burning, increase pollinator habitat on working lands, and support conservation planning.
- $67.5 Million to develop a healthier, more resilient, and more equitable food system.
- $42 Million in new investments to support economic recovery, resiliency, and high-road job growth.
For AFT, this is an unparalleled moment. Here’s an overview of where AFT’s priority programs stand in the May Revise.
- $100 Million – Health Soils Program (HSP). AFT supports an annual investment of the HSP with minimum funding of $50 Million. The Governor is proposing $100 Million.
- $60 Million for Dairy Methane Program. AFT supports this investment to the Dairy Methane Program, specifically the Alternative Manure Management Program, which is designed to transition dairies to sustainable handling of manure from wet to dry methods.
- $100 Million – State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP). AFT sought to restore funding for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program. We were delighted to see the Governor is proposing $100 Million.
- $42.5 Million – Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC). AFT has worked to ensure the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), which is critical for the California Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) program remains intact. The Governor’s proposal for GGRF will allow SALC to be funded at $42.5 Million.
- $30 Million – Riparian Working Lands Program. This program will support enhancements and restoration to agricultural lands. AFT continues to seek $25 Million at minimum for the CA Farmland Conservancy Program for agricultural easements.
- $300 Million – Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). AFT is seeking funding for Assembly Bill 350, a bill to create a three-year grant program to assist farmers and ranchers in critically over-drafted basins with conservation management planning. The Governor is proposing $300 Million in funds for implementation and planning of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Learn more about Assembly Bill 350 (SGMA Ombudsman) now.
- $8.7 Million – Support for Small and Mid-sized Farms. AFT supports funding recommendations to provide direct technical assistance and grants to technical assistance providers and to small, mid-sized, and underserved farm operations for business planning, regulatory compliance, navigation and access, and to provide leverage for state and federal funding.
- $20 Million – Conservation Planning. The Governor’s budget also includes funding to advance conservation planning to create a more resilient and robust agricultural system. There were several other notable investments, which includes funding for pollinator habitat on working lands, farm to school programming, urban agriculture, technical assistance for farmers and ranchers, new and beginning farmer training programs, and much more. Several details are still evolving for many of these new investments. For a full budget summary on investments related to sustainable agriculture and American Farmland Trust priorities, click here.
The Senate has released its budget proposal this month with many of its proposals lacking the same aggressive investment, or any at all, in comparison to the Governor’s budget. The deadline for the Legislature to send the Governor their budget is June 15, and June 30 is the deadline for the Governor to sign it. Between now and June 15, the Legislature will hold budget hearings to consider the Governor’s proposal as well as discuss their own budget recommendations. AFT applauds the Governor and the administration’s vision and will work to protect and advance this historic funding proposal over the coming weeks.
How can you help? Take action now!
Assembly Bill 350: Your voice in supporting these historic budget proposals is critical now! Specifically, we seek support for AFT’s sponsored bill AB 350, authored by Assembly Member Villapudua, that would bring farmers critical conservation planning needed for implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in critically over-drafted basins. Support AB 350 now.
Assembly Bill 125: Support $779 Million in investments for equitable food systems! In conjunction with a broad coalition of stakeholders, AFT is working to advance early budget funding for AB 125, authored by Assembly Member Rivas, for a bond centering on an equitable and more resilient food and farming system in California. Support AB 125 now.
Other Bills AFT supports:
AB 391 (Villapudua) A bill to promote pollinator habitat investments.
SB 574 (Laird) A bill to promote functional and administrative clean-up of the Williamson Act.
AB 284 (Rivas) A bill that will identify best practices and policy incentives and establish an overall climate goal for California’s natural and working lands to reduce carbon and atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions.
AB 252 (Rivas) A bill to address the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, through the development or implementation of local programs supporting or facilitating multi-benefit land repurposing at the basin scale.
AB 1009 (Bloom) A bill to create a Farm to School Hub Program.
See more specifics in the California Comeback Plan.