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California launches its Healthy Soils Program with the Award of 86 grants to farmers and ranchers

7th Dec 2017

Source: CalCAN, 6th December 2017

California took an exciting step forward yesterday in its endeavor to unleash the potential of agriculture to make unique and powerful contributions to averting climate disaster. Appropriately timed for World Soils Day and the 2nd day of California Soils Week, the state announced the country’s first grants to support farmers and ranchers in adopting Healthy Soils practices that deliver climate benefits while also producing healthier food and cleaner air and water. $5.23 million was awarded to 86 projects across 31 counties.

The Healthy Soils Program provides incentives and demonstration project funding for farmers and ranchers to adopt practices that improve soil health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and sequester carbon. The program currently offers incentives for 17 healthy soils practices, which include: cover crops, compost and mulch application to feed and protect the soil; perennial tree and shrub plantings to store carbon and provide pollinator and wildlife habitat; and reduced tillage to improve soil structure and water storage capacity.

By the numbers:

  • 64 farms and ranches were awarded a total of $1.77 million in incentives grants to implement Healthy Soils practices on their fields and pastures. Read Descriptions of the Incentives Projects
  • 22 farms and ranches, often in collaboration with researchers, NGOs, and conservation technical assistance providers, were awarded a total of $3.46 million in demonstration project grants, which require outreach and education to fellow farmers in addition to implementing the practice. Read Descriptions of the Demonstration Projects
  • 10 of those demonstration projects will also include greenhouse gas emissions quantification research to further refine our understanding of the benefits of these practices

CalCAN and a wide network of partners have worked for many years to get this program created through legislation, funded through cap-and-trade auction revenues, and designed and implemented. Needless to say, we are thrilled to celebrate its launch and look forward to seeing projects on the ground.

But make no mistake: this is just the beginning! California has 78,000 farms and ranches and we need every one of them to be building healthy soils. To do that, we’ll need to improve the program, vastly increase its funding, and provide conservation technical assistance from start to finish. And to do all that, we’ll need a much larger network of partner advocates.

Please take a moment to share this exciting news with a farmer, friend, or family member, and invite them to join CalCAN’s newsletter list to stay informed about this program and many other climate and agriculture issues.

Stay tuned for more: next week, we’ll publish a second blog with analysis about the distribution of awards by land use type and specific practices to be adopted.