California is the nation’s leading agricultural production state when it comes to value and crop diversity, and in order to keep that title, maintaining healthy soils throughout the state’s farm and ranchlands is vital. The Healthy Soils Program is accepting applications now and aims to promote the development of such soils, reducing greenhouse gas emissions while providing a variety of benefits to the local community.
The objective of HSP, which was authorized by the Budget Act of 2016, is to build soil carbon and reduce agricultural greenhouse emissions in support of the Healthy Soils Initiative, led by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. According to the CDFA, soils are a fundamental medium for crop growth and food production, since the health of agricultural soil aligns directly with its ability to build and retain adequate soil organic matter – something essential to the soil’s continued capacity to serve as a place for food to grow.
HSP receives funding from California Climate Investments through proceeds from the state’s cap-and-trade auctions. There are two components to the program: the HSP Incentives Program and the HSP Demonstration Projects.
An estimated $3.75 million in competitive grant funding will be awarded as part of the HSP Incentives Program to provide financial assistance for implementation of agricultural management practices that create soil carbon and reduce emissions. California farmers and ranchers, along with Federal and California recognized Native American Indian Tribes, are eligible to apply for the HSP Incentives Program.
For the HSP Demonstration Projects, an estimated $3 million in competitive grant funding will be awarded to projects that demonstrate and monitor specific management practices in agriculture that sequester carbon, improve soil health and reduce atmospheric GHGs. Not-for-profit entities, University Cooperative Extensions, Federal and University Experiment Stations, Resource Conservation Districts, Federal and California recognized Native American Indian Tribes, and farmers and ranchers in collaboration with any of the aforementioned entities, are eligible to apply for the HSP Demonstration Projects.
Both components of HSP require that incentivized practices be implemented for a total of three years, with the third year of project costs required as matching funds.
Locally, Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the Farmers Guild will be hosting a workshop in Merced to provide technical assistance to California growers and ranchers who are interested in applying for HSP incentives. The workshop will thoroughly explain the program’s requirements and application process, and will also help participants get a head start on their applications, which are due by Sept. 9.
The workshop will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Merced County Farm Bureau, 646 California 59 in Merced. The event is free, and attendees are encouraged to bring a laptop. RSVPs and questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For detailed information on eligibility and HSP requirements, prospective applicants should visit the CDFA HSP website at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/healthysoils/. To streamline and expedite the application process, CDFA is partnering with the State Water Resources Control Board, which hosts an online application tool, Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool. All prospective applicants must register for a FAAST account athttps://faast.waterboards.ca.gov. Applications and all supporting information must be submitted electronically using FAAST by 5 p.m. Sept. 19