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California’s Healthy Soils Incentive Program- CalCAN update

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CA Department of Food & Agriculture Finalizing Healthy Soils Program

Posted by Brian Shobe, California Agriculture and Climate Network (CalCAN) May 22 2017

As farmers and ranchers in the U.S. and abroad experience the reality of more extreme and unpredictable weather, soil carbon sequestration is catching national and international attention as a means of climate change mitigation and adaptation. California is poised to lead the way with its soon-to-be-launched Healthy Soils Incentives Program, the nation’s first program to directly incentivize farmers for adopting practices that improve soil health, sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) most recent proposed Healthy Soils program framework, farmers and ranchers will be eligible to apply for up to $50,000 to defray the costs of adopting healthy soils practices (pictured below) over the course of three years...

…some proposed program details raised significant concerns … CDFA agreed to release the program’s draft request for proposal (RFP) for public comment and subsequent revision before officially launching the program….Below, we outline our recommendations for the proposed program framework.

-Allow on-farm compost to be eligible for compost application…

-Clarify how payments and payment timelines will work for different practices, as well as how that will affect the 3rd year matching fund requirement…

-Simplify the application for applicant feasibility…

-Require soil tests from award recipients, not applicants…

-Reward applicants for conservation plans and matching funds, but not so much that it creates a structural disadvantage to limited-resource and small-scale farmers…

-Shift the demonstration program back to its intended goal of expanding the impact and adoption of Healthy Soils practices

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