Sacramento, CA – It’s a new year in Sacramento and that means the Governor is proposing his budget. Over the next five months the Legislature will work his proposal over, adding and subtracting, and there is a revision in May to take account of tax revenues. But for now it is interesting to see what Governor Newsom is proposing in his first real budget.
There is very good news on school food. They propose to fund the CDFA Office of Farm to Fork from the General Fund, with $1.5 million for staff on an ongoing basis and a one-time Farm to School grant fund of $8.5 million. In addition, they would increase the state’s contribution to all school meals each year by $60 million from Prop 98 funds, a 40% increase in state funding. Finally, they propose a $10 million training program for school food service staff. The First Partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and Secretary of CDFA Karen Ross will lead a working group to sort out how these funds will be spent. CAFF will be there.
In the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (cap and trade) budget, Healthy Soils is given $18 million (down from $28 million in the current budget but still higher than under Brown), and the governor proposes to continue it for five years. Dairy methane reduction is given $20 million (down from $30 million last year and much lower than under Brown). Since digesters have been getting two-thirds of that money we would expect the Alternative Manure Management Program to receive only $6 million.
The climate budget includes a $103 million one-time General Fund appropriation to support the Water Resilience Portfolio (at WaterResilience.ca.gov ) , including Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation and SWEEP (the on-farm water use efficiency program). SWEEP, which was not funded in two out of the last three years, would get $20 million. CalCAN is looking at running a bill again to put SWEEP into statute and try to solidify its standing.
The governor proposes a $4.75 billion climate resilience bond measure, which would go on the November ballot, including $200 million for the Environmental Farming Incentive Programs. Similar bond measures in the Legislature last year had $200 million for ag in the Senate version and $100 million in the Assembly. We will see if those numbers can be increased, though fire resilience is the main intent of the bond. The Governor’s bond proposal also includes:
- $395 million to support local groundwater management sustainability agencies implementing their groundwater management plans in critically over drafted basins.
- $360 million in grants and loans to disadvantaged communities to improve access to safe drinking water.
- $140 million to remove barriers for native fish and provide enhanced water flows and reconnect aquatic habitat to help endure drought and adapt to climate change.
The governor also proposes a $1 billion Climate Catalyst Revolving Loan Fund, with the idea of funding climate-related businesses that would face high interest rates at commercial lenders. It specifically calls out climate smart farming and forestry, including “Dairy digesters, agricultural and off-road engine replacement (with a focus on vehicles owned by individual operators/small businesses), efficient on-farm irrigation, sustainable food processing.”
Finally, this budget offers $33 million in General Fund dollars on a one-time basis to support the establishment of the Fresno-Merced Food Innovation Corridor to stimulate research and development, commercialization and innovation to support advanced sustainable agricultural production and high-quality jobs in the San Joaquin Valley.
Dave Runsten, CAFF Policy Director
CAFF policy update 1/18/2020