Rescue Small Farms, California!

Irrigation pipes beside a fallow field that last year overflowed with vegetables for a local CSA. Photo by Kelsey Joy Murphey

Farming has always been a risky business, but here in California, 2021 is proving to be another beast altogether. Before they could even look up from the ravages of a global pandemic, small family farmers across the state–the backbone of our local food system–found themselves staring down catastrophic drought, historic heat waves, and a wildfire season sparked earlier than ever.  Please join CAFF in speaking up, urging your state leaders to include support for small farms in the drought emergency budget that is right now being developed in Sacramento.

At Community Alliance with Family Farmers, we know that the climate crisis lying at the root of all this requires big, bold, long-term action. And through efforts like CAFF’s Climate Smart Farming program, we’re working to grow lasting resilience from the soil. But right now, to assure that our small farms survive to next season, we’re calling on the state of California to #rescuesmallfarms today! 

As reservoirs and wells go dry, small farmers have abandoned fields, watching crops wither in the ground. At this moments, thousands of them are making tough choices not just about this season, but about the future of their operations. These are the growers who show up at your local farmers market, who operate CSA’s, and who supply local shops and restaurants with fresh food. Few of them have access to safety nets or savings. Traditional government aid is rarely designed with small farms in mind. And the vast majority of BIPOC farmers operate small farms, doubly weighed down by historic inequities. When it comes to our precious water, small farms and the communities they feed must remain a top priority.


In this time of crisis, we call upon the state of California to prevent the loss of our small family farms and to ensure the future of our local food system. On behalf of the CAFF community, we request the following investments:

Measuring the usual water line this time of year on a small farm's now almost empty reservoir. Photo by Kelsey Joy Murphey
  1. Direct relief: Provide a $15 million general drought relief program for small farmers, facilitated through the Department of Food & Agriculture’s existing reflief efforts and re-granted by appropriate technical assistance providers.
  2. Water infrastructure funding: Invest $70 million to expand and strengthen the State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program at the Department of Food & Agriculture for water efficiency updates, pump and well lowering for farms of 200 acres or less, combined with energy efficient technologies.
  3. Water efficiency & dry farming education: Create a $2 million outreach and extension program funded by the Department of Water Resources focused on water efficiency as well as dry farming wine grapes in the coastal regions of the state through appropriate nonprofits, resource conservation districts and cooperative extension.


Fallow field that last year supplied over a hundred families a weekly box of produce. Photo by Kelsey Joy Murphey