Climate Change

SB 367 (Wolk)–Agriculture Climate Benefits Act of 2015

CAFF is co-sponsoring a bill in this session of the Legislature, the Agriculture Climate Benefits Act, SB 367. The bill is authored by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Yolo County), and is co-sponsored with our climate policy coalition, CalCAN. SB 367 promotes ‘climate-friendly’ agricultural practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or store carbon.

Why is this significant?

Agriculture is among the only sectors that can actually draw down greenhouse gases and store them in soils and plants. These agricultural climate solutions are needed to meet the state’s goals and prevent dangerous levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. By investing a portion of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds in agricultural projects that have been shown to move us in the right direction, we hope to avoid unnecessary regulation of farming and ranching.

These programs will have a dual impact, producing climate benefits while better preparing farms to deal with drought, extreme weather events, and other effects of climate change. Because greenhouse gases in crop agriculture are often tied to irrigation, many of the greenhouse gas reducing practices will have the added benefit of reducing applied water.

SB 367’s programs are supported by scientific evidence that conserving farmland can limit urban sprawl and avoid associated greenhouse gases, and that farm management practices to improve soil health, conserve water and energy, generate renewable energy, and create wildlife habitat all have significant and measurable climate benefits

What is the funding involved? 

CDFA will be appropriated $50M from cap and trade (authorized by AB 32, Air Resources Control Board) to incentivize farmers and ranchers to adopt climate-friendly growing practices.

What are examples of these kinds of practices?

Application of compost to rangeland can greatly increase the land’s ability to sequester carbon over time. Planting hedgerows and riparian habitat, a shift to no-till crop production, and burning walnut and almond hulls and prunings in biogas facilities. Growers can cut GHG emissions from conventional processing tomato production in half through a combination of soil testing, precision fertigation with drip, and the use of nitrate inhibitors.  These practices reduce fertilizer use and minimize irrigation.

Where are we in the legislative process?

On April 7th, SB 367 passed unanimously from the Senate Agriculture Committee and it passed on April 29th in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.  The bill has the support of numerous agricultural and environmental organizations, land trusts, as well as farmers from around the state, including the FArm Bureau. For more information and to learn how you can help, please visit the CalCAN website.

 

Overview of CAFF’s Climate Change Policy

CAFF is a founding member of  the California Climate and Agricultural 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.

AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, calls for California to reduce its emissions of global warming gases 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 reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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.

Believing that by reducing its carbon footprint agriculture can play a constructive role in responding to the
climate crisis, CalCAN strives to be a voice for the positive contribution agriculture can make on climate protection and adaptation. CalCAN is the only organization advocating policy solutions at the nexus of climate change and sustainable agriculture in California, serving as a bridge between agriculture and the environment and thus cultivating farmer leadership on the issue.

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.

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