Accelerating Regenerative Agriculture in California
In the face of increasing drought, wildfire, and flood disasters in the nation’s leading food-producing state, AFT is accelerating regenerative agriculture in California to encourage climate resilience in our food system. Adopting these practices is an important way that farmers, ranchers, and the land they manage can adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Throughout the state, AFT is doing everything from advocating for policy change and performing on-farm research to providing in-field technical support backed by financial assistance, so more resources are available to scale up the implementation of regenerative agricultural practices.
“AFT wants to help California farmers address severe climatic challenges by amplifying technical solutions and advocating for much-needed resources in the field,” explains Tom Stein, AFT’s California Regional Director.
“We partner closely with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, community groups, and businesses to support as many California farmers as possible with strengthening their climate resilience and business viability.”
Read how collaboration is helping hundreds of California’s San Joaquin Valley farmers across more than 100,000 acres adopt regenerative agricultural methods. Learn more about the San Joaquin Valley Land and Water Strategy’s ambitious goals for the region.
In-Field Support for Farmers
To support California producers implementing practices that conserve water, build soil health, and increase biodiversity, AFT conducts on-farm trials, writes farmer case studies, provides in-field technical assistance, and supplies financial assistance.
Along with multiple climate benefits, AFT’s research shows regenerative agriculture often has a positive effect on the farm’s bottom line by increasing crop yields, while reducing inputs and costs over time. AFT’s Soil Health Bottom Line program connects farmers and agricultural professionals with an ever-increasing library of resources documenting these results.
A dedicated focus is on providing support to historically underserved farmers, who have historically been excluded from resources and recognition within our food system — namely the BIPOC, women, low-income, and immigrant communities.
“AFT research shows more than four times as many farmers and ranchers are age 65 and older, as are under age 35, suggesting that 370 million acres of agricultural land will change hands in the next two decades,” explains Deborah Nares, California Senior Manager.
“Creating an environment that fosters the continued viability of new, beginning, and historically underserved farming communities can help fill the void during this generational shift in our nation’s food system.”
AFT’s Farms for a New Generation program provides culturally responsive training, resources, and support to bolster the economic viability and climate resiliency of historically underserved farmers.
In California, our Women for the Land program supported women in agriculture across nearly 24,000 acres in 18 counties. More than 63 percent of the women in agriculture who participated in one of our training programs over a two-year period reported to AFT they would sign up for an USDA conservation program.
Financial and Policy Support for California Farmers
For many reasons, it can be challenging to implement regenerative agricultural practices. Often, California farmers are working with slim profit margins under difficult market and weather conditions. Investments in regenerative agriculture may not be economically viable for them or are administratively complicated to access. That’s why AFT works on the ground and in close partnership with other trusted community partners to provide financial assistance for farms transitioning to these growing practices, such as this opportunity for San Joaquin Valley farmers.
AFT has a long history of advocating for state policies that accelerate these regenerative agricultural practices in California. Along with 17 other organizations and 85-plus supporters, AFT is an active member of the Food and Farm Resilience Coalition. This coalition is working to scale-up sustainable agricultural practices, along with improving farmworker safety, regional and local food infrastructure, and healthy food justice for all. Join us- Support Assembly Bill 408.
As AFT’s national climate initiative explains, “We believe farmers and ranchers have been, and will continue to be, an essential part of the climate solution.”
And in the Golden State, we’re working hard to make that happen.