May 21, 2020
California to give $22M in grants for healthy soil
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has selected 316 Healthy Soils Program (HSP) Incentives Program projects for grant awards totaling approximately $22.06 million. The program encourages farmers and ranchers to implement on-farm practices that improve soil health, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sequester carbon in soils.
The 2020 HSP Incentives Program funding cycle was the first time applications were accepted on a rolling basis, with a final deadline of June 26 or until funds were expended, whichever came first. CDFA closed the application period on May 15, 2020, having reached the award threshold six weeks prior to the final deadline. During the application period, 578 applications requesting $37.87 million had been received. The selected 2020 projects will build soil health on more than an estimated 30,700 acres of California agricultural lands and reduce GHGs by an estimated 73,800 tons per year.
“The number of applicants is testament to the value and popularity of this program,” said CDFA secretary Karen Ross. “We are excited to see such an enthusiastic response to the program and the improvements we implemented to streamline the application process. Soil health is gaining more and more attention as a key element in addressing climate change and increasing soil organic matter for drought resiliency. Who better to serve up healthy soil than our California farmers and ranchers?”
In addition to the rolling application period, the 2020 funding cycle included several new programmatic changes aimed to make the application process easier, provide enhanced tools to assist with information required in the application, and achieve better alignment with the USDA’s National Resource Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which remains available to fund conservation practices.
CDFA’s Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation (OEFI) administers the Healthy Soils Program along with several other Climate Smart Agriculture programs. While the 2020 funding cycle for these projects is secure, future funding may be at risk in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and budgetary uncertainties. To stay informed about Healthy Soils and other OEFI programs, webinars and activities, please subscribe to their email service at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/
Photo: Lance Cheung/USDA