KEY POLICY ISSUES
CAFF is a founding member of the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) and conducts its work on climate change through this organization. Founded in response to an urgent call for sustainable practices that reduce farming-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prepare farmers to cope with the coming challenges of climate change, CalCAN is a coalition that advances policies to support California agriculture in the face of the climate crisis. CAFF serves on its Executive Committee.
AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, called for California to reduce its emissions of global warming gases (GHGs) to 1990 levels by 2020, a reduction of about 25% over status quo projections. CAFF was the only statewide agricultural organization to support AB 32, recognizing that global warming is the pre-eminent environmental and economic challenge to our future and that sustainable agriculture can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016, SB 32 committed the state to reducing GHGs further to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
In California, climate change is expected to cause extreme and unpredictable weather, drier conditions, reduced water resources and increased pest and disease pressures. These potentially profound impacts on the viability of California agriculture require immediate action.
Fortunately, many of the practices developed by the sustainable and organic farming community offer powerful strategies for reducing GHG emissions, sequestering carbon, and making agriculture more resilient to climate change by decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, conserving water and increasing soil fertility. The benefits go beyond climate protection—sustainable agriculture also offers environmental and health benefits such as clean air and water, increased biodiversity, and enhanced wildlife habitat.
More detailed information about CalCAN can be found on its website, including several videos and fact sheets profiling organic farmers and their conservation practices. Sign up for a monthly newsletter and action alerts that tell you how to influence policy. The website also provides a blog that aims to keep you updated on the latest news related to sustainable agriculture and climate policy researches.
POLICY ACCOMPLISHMENTS w/ CalCAN:
- Passed legislation to allow farmers to connect alternative energy sources such as solar to the grid through net energy metering. This led to a significant increase in solar and other projects on farms in California.
- Passed legislation to require CDFA’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program to actually make the research available to farmers and the public
- Worked with the Natural Resources agency to create the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation program at the Strategic Growth Council. The program was launched in 2014 with 10% of the Affordable Housing cap and trade funds, and through 2018 had spent $124 million protecting almost 100,000 acres of farm and ranch land. This was our first success at getting cap and trade funding.
- Also in 2014, as a result of the drought, the state started the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, or SWEEP. Through 2018 it had spent $63 million on over 600 water efficiency projects on farms.
- We managed to get $100 million into a water bond to support water conservation in the state.
- Then in 2017, after years of effort, the state launched the Healthy Soils program, which has spent $6 million on over 100 projects so far and has been given $28 million in the 2019-2020 budget.
- And in 2018 CDFA started the Alternative Manure Management Program. This grew out of a task force on dairy methane where university researchers told us that you could eliminate 90% of greenhouse gases from dairies with low-tech methods and that you didn’t have to build very expensive digesters. This program is really helping smaller dairies reduce emissions. The program has spent $31 million on 57 projects through 2018.
- In 2018 we passed AB 2377 to require more money be spent on technical assistance in these programs, with a set-aside to help socially disadvantaged farmers.