RR is thrilled to find longtime friend of Petaluma Bounty, local sustainable ag systems advocate, and co-owner of Chica Bloom flower farm, Ariana Reguzzoni, writing the pages of the Press Democrat, the Argus-Courier and elsewhere of late. In this Civil Eats piece she touches upon the ways California is seeking to both secure a sustainable food system and create ag systems which also contribute to climate solutions.
California’s Grand Plan to Fight Climate Change on the Farm
California lawmakers move toward paying farmers to adopt climate-smart practices.
While El Niño rains have brought some relief to drought-stricken California, Governor Jerry Brown appears to be concerned with the impact extreme weather could continue to have on agriculture in the state. His 2016 budget proposal includes almost $3.1 billion for programs that address climate change and the allotment for agricultural programs jumped from $15 million in 2015 to $100 million.
In fact, said Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director of the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), protecting the nation’s food supply might be the central reason for the dramatic increase. “I think the governor is concerned with food security,” she told Civil Eats. The more farmers can combine their efforts to mitigate the current problems by reducing the worst greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the farm, she added, “the better we are at maintaining a secure food system.”
The suite of proposed agricultural programs include existing strategies such as methane digesters on dairy farms, and new ones, like the Healthy Soils Initiative, which aims to increase soil organic matter and carbon sequestration. They would all receive an unprecedented allotment of funds from the state’s cap and trade program, which allows large GHG-emitting businesses in California to buy and sell allowances beyond the state-wide cap. According to CalCAN, there is currently $1.7 billion in cap-and-trade funds that have yet to be allocated.
So why the remarkable increase? Merrill points to a landmark 2012 study from the University of California at Davis that made a compelling argument for the value of climate-smart farming practices, and showed—among other things—that more GHG emissions were released from urban land than irrigated farmland. She adds that the state’s land trust and conservation communities have also rallied behind sustainable agriculture and helped inform decision makers about the undeniable connections between farming and climate change.
But most supporters of the proposed budget aren’t too concerned about why the change is happening—they’re just glad to see that it is.