The Community Alliance with Family Farmers is calling on legislative leaders to support critical investments in California’s small and underserved farmers. CAFF is seeking legislative support for approximately $60 million in one-time investments aimed at addressing the urgent need to ensure the ongoing viability of California’s small farmers, particularly those who have been historically underserved, and who are striving to farm sustainably.
In California, approximately three out of four farmers operate on less than 180 acres and/or less than $100,000 in annual sales and 19 percent–nearly 1 in 5–of California’s agricultural producers are socially disadvantaged. Many small and medium-sized farmers and local food hubs lost significant revenues as key markets were disrupted and remain unpredictable. Even before the pandemic, California’s small farmers were struggling – the barriers they face include lack of access to capital, land, federal aid, technical assistance, and more. These challenges have been confirmed by responses to our recent survey of CAFF’s farmer members across the state, voiced by participants at our recent annual California Small Farm Conference, and documented in CDFA’s 2020 Farmer Equity Act Report. Many are also included as policy ideas in the recently released report associated with Assembly Agriculture Chair Robert Rivas’ statewide agriculture tour.
What We’re Asking For
CAFF has identified this package of one-time investments that would help to address these barriers and support California’s smallest and socially disadvantaged farmers:
Technical Assistance Program for Underserved Farmers – $8.7million
This funding would provide on-the ground support through trusted and experienced partner organizations to help farmers overcome the many challenges farmers face including accessing Coronavirus relief funding through the incoming federal relief from the American Rescue Plan.
Sustainable Pest Management – Biologically Integrated Farming Systems Program (BIFS) – $10million
The BIFs program is an opportunity to establish on-farm demonstration projects, provide technical assistance, and foster farmer-to-farmer information exchange–all of which are proven methods that support small-scale producers to implement holistic practices to manage pest pressure utilizing less chemical inputs.
Farm to Market – Community- Based Food Hubs (AB 1009, Bloom) – $17m
AB 1009 will support the development of community-based food hubs, promoting direct sales from small to mid-scale farmers to their local community, public schools and institutions. Food hubs will increase purchasing of healthy, local, and climate-friendly produce, boost the local farming economy, employ food system workers, and accelerate climate adaptation and resilience.
Beginning Farmer and Farmworker Training Support – $15m
Regional farmer training centers provide culturally relevant assistance for socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers. Investing in beginning farmer and farmworker training programs will support the growth of food systems jobs and the local farming economy.
Small-Scale Farmer Infrastructure Support – $10m
The proposed funding will support small-farm tool libraries across the state, funding existing and new programs to purchase tools, maintenance, training, library personnel, as well as infrastructure costs.