California Climate & Agriculture Network (CALCAN)
The California Legislature passed a 2017 funding package for the state’s climate change programs. Among the funded programs was the Healthy Soils Initiative, a CalCAN supported effort to provide resources for farmers and ranchers to increase carbon stores in agricultural soils and reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall.
Healthy Soils Program was funded after multiple years of advocacy by CalCAN and our partners. $7.5 million will be spent in 2017 to reward farmers and ranchers for increasing carbon stores in their soils and reducing greenhouse gas emissions overall. As the program is designed and implemented, CalCAN will continue to provide input aimed at maximizing its effectiveness, reach and accessibility to a diversity of growers.
California invested another $38 million in on-farm water efficiency through the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), and continued making improvements to increase the program's reach to growers..
Nineteen thousand acres saved + forty-seven billion vehicle miles eliminated, thanks to a $37 million investment by the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC). CalCAN will provide input on an expected 2017 request for proposals and argue for funding sufficient to meet the demand.
California Legislature committed $50 million to reduce dairy methane emissions, and California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) broadened its focus on anaerobic digesters by establishing an Alternative Manure Management Program.. CalCAN will continue to make recommendations on the implementation of this program and advocate for adequate funding.
On-farm water efficiency, diversified dairy methane reduction strategies, and farmland conservation each received tens of millions of dollars of investments in 2016.
California Climate Smart Ag programs
Governor Jerry Brown proposed on-going investments in climate smart agriculture programs, including the new Healthy Soils Program. The budget proposes to maintain current funding levels. However, the funding will only become available if the legislature votes by two-thirds to extend the cap-and-trade program beyond the year 2020 when the program is set to expire.
Cap-and Trade program
The source of funding for California's climate change programs - from home weatherization, clean car rebates to climate smart ag programs - is the auction revenue from the cap-and-trade program. Under cap-and-trade, large emitters of greenhouse gas emissions - industrial facilities, oil refineries, large food processors, etc. - are required to hold allowances that equal their greenhouse gas emissions minus any reductions they have to do over time. A portion of those allowances is sold by the state at auction. Those proceeds, generating over $3 billion so far, are then invested in a diversity of programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing multiple benefits to our communities.
Last year, the legislature voted to extend the climate change law to the year 2030, requiring greenhouse gas emission reductions of 40 percent below 1990 levels.
But in doing so, they did not explicitly extend the cap-and-trade program, which is controversial. There is a current lawsuit filed by big business that claims the program is an illegal tax. Others are concerned that the program's allowance of trading of credits and allowances allows for speculation on the carbon market that does not ultimately lead to the desired outcome of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and related pollution reductions in California.
Can a new cap-and-trade program be fashioned that still allows for investments in climate change programs while addressing the concerns by many about the program's impacts? That's the question before us that will be debated this year in the legislature, one in which CalCAN and our partners will engage.