The Great California Drought, now in year five (though Northern Cal is getting some temporary relief), is the worst drought in California history. According to NASA we are currently trillions (yes, trillions) of gallons below where we should be in groundwater. This has forced us to deplete our precious aquifers—many that took millennia to fill. Recently, NASA, using satellites to measure underground water supplies, found was that nearly one in seven US aquifers are so depleted that they must now be classified as ‘extremely” or “highly” stressed, and that California’s Central Valley Aquifer—which is being sucked dry to help drought-stricken farms in our core growing region—is now by far the most troubled in the United States. Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who lead the study, called the situation “critical,” adding that “we are running out of groundwater.” According to the federal government nine cities in California are at risk of going bone dry, and some small towns are already needing to truck in water for daily use.-- Kopald and Chouinard, Huffington Post, April 20, 2016
"We" didn't deplete our precious reservoirs. Farmers and ranchers did and government did not stop them. Banks willing to lend on the huge pumps helped. Nor will government stop them in the future, despite whatever Save-the-Aquifer bills pass the Legislature and Congress because agribusiness and the finance, insurance and real estate special interests behind it do not wish it so.
So, "Turning and turning" in an ever tightening vortex, these hawk-beaked peddlers of elite yuppie schlock have decided to return to Back in the Day when Small was Beautiful, everybody who was anybody repaired their own running shoes, studied their own Whole Earth Catalogue, and used only the most expensive English-made spades to double-dug their French bio-intensive pot patches.
And long live J. Mogador Griffin!
Yes, it is true that soil fertility is helpful and presumably one could find some way of patenting and branding green manure. Sillier things have been done in the name of agriculture by that class of small landowners that "workshop" rather than work their land, and buzz from farming fad to fad like bees who have permanently lost their way. For these people, it is always preferable that the news comes from NASA or some other agency of Outer Space.
However, any of dozens of articles that John Bellamy Foster and his collaborators at Monthly Review have written on Marx's concept of the metabolic rift are more sensible than any of these outpourings of perpetual grant grifters and apologists for capitalist agriculture. All of this -- the whole topic of loss of soil fertility (including moisture retention) -- was defined, examined and studied by great soil scientists in the mid-19th century, when, if it had not been for the discovery and thorough exploitation of the guano islands off the coast of Ecuador and Peru, the loss of soil fertility in Europe and North America might have been absolutely disastrous to these rapidly developing imperial political economies. In fact, in 1856, the US passed the Guano Island Act, which declared that the US could take possession of any island anywhere in the world that contained deposits of bird dung and was not occupied or within the jurisdiction of another nation. In those days, many slaves working cotton in the South were branded. These days, many working in California agriculture to pay off debt are branded "illegal aliens."
Soon, workshoppin' farmers will be branding horseshit.
Huff Post Green
Water for Farmers, Even During a Drought
· Larry Kopald--Branding and communication strategist, longtime environmental activist
Cowritten by Yvon Chouinard, Founder, Patagonia
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and ex-presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina said recently that environmentalists were the cause of water problems in California because they had blocked the creation of more dams in the state. She was quickly raked over the coals by environmentalists, who pointed out that it doesn’t matter how much storage you have if you have no water to store. Turns out both sides are missing the point. And the opportunity.
The Great California Drought, now in year five (though Northern Cal is getting some temporary relief), is the worst drought in California history. According to NASA we are currently trillions (yes, trillions) of gallons below where we should be in groundwater. This has forced us to deplete our precious aquifers—many that took millennia to fill. Recently, NASA, using satellites to measure underground water supplies, found was that nearly one in seven US aquifers are so depleted that they must now be classified as ‘extremely” or “highly” stressed, and that California’s Central Valley Aquifer—which is being sucked dry to help drought-stricken farms in our core growing region—is now by far the most troubled in the United States. Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who lead the study, called the situation “critical,” adding that “we are running out of groundwater.” According to the federal government nine cities in California are at risk of going bone dry, and some small towns are already needing to truck in water for daily use.
So where’s the good news? Truth is, we’re standing on it. And more precisely, we’re farming on it. New data on soil from around the world shows that if we modify our approaches to how we grow our food we could reduce the amount of water necessary by as much as 80 percent, depending on the crop. And we can do this while maintaining similar yields and making our agriculture industry more resilient.
The science is actually fairly simple. Healthy soil is brimming with living organisms—billions in a single spoonful. To support these micro-organisms soil needs to store water for them, which it does by creating humus, an organic component of soil that stores forty times its weight in water. So think of healthy soil as a huge sponge A really huge sponge that acts like a water battery during droughts. Studies by the Rodale Institute have shown that years into a drought healthy soil is still producing food— even without irrigated water.
So the big question is—are we doing this—and if not, why not?
The quick answer is no. Most of the state uses industrial agriculture techniques, which include mono-crops, severe tilling, and widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These techniques kill those micro-organisms in the soil, taking the health of the soil with them. Studies of industrial farms have shown a reduction in the organic matter by as much as 90 percent. And when that disappears, so does the soil’s natural ability to store water.
The good news is that we can reverse this quickly. According to Dr. Christine Jones, one of the world’s foremost scientists on groundcover and soil, and also verified by Dr. Rattan Lal at Ohio State University, every one percent of organic matter we restore in the soil results in the retention of 20,000-60,000 gallons of water per acre. With 27,000,000 acres of planted cropland and 63,000,000 acres of range grasslands in the state, that adds up to a stored potential of 1.8 to 5.4 trillion gallons.
Accomplishing this may be easier than you think. Depending on the soil and what’s being raised, it comes down to adding compost and managing the soil in a regenerative manner. For crops, that means cover crops, no (or very shallow) tilling, and reduced use of synthetic chemicals. For grazing livestock it means using moveable paddocks with dense herds so cattle can be managed in a way that replicates how herd animals move in nature, which benefits the soil instead of depleting it.
We can help make this happen by supporting bills like SB 367, which would fund agricultural projects in California that store water (as well as carbon), and by supporting Governor Brown’s Healthy Soils Initiative, which could protect our agriculture industry, our water, and even positively affect climate change from this moment on.
As to Carly Fiorina’s comments about needing more dams to solve the water crisis, here’s a novel way to look at it: according to Russ Conserv, an engineer who ran Shell Oil’s Gamechangers Division, adding one percent of organic matter to California’s agricultural soil would store the equivalent of up to 16 Folsom dams.
So if you’re looking to increase California’s water supply and help our agriculture industry at the same time, look down. You might just be standing on a puddle. A big, state-wide, permanent
Yvon Chouinard is founder of outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia, known for its environmental leadership and commitment to use business to inspire and implement solutions to environmental crises.
Larry Kopald is a co-founder of The Carbon Underground, a science and communications based non-profit working to restore soil as a means to mitigate climate change, droughts and better feed the planet.
Follow Larry Kopald on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lkopald
FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL CODE
560. This article shall be known as the Cannella Environmental
Farming Act of 1995.
561. The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) California agriculture helps to feed the world and fuel our
economy. Agriculture provides one out of every 10 jobs in California,
and our state has led the nation in total farm production every year
since 1948. During 1993, California's 76,000 farms generated nearly
$20 billion in cash receipts and another $70 billion in economic
(b) Many farmers engage in practices that contribute to the
well-being of ecosystems, air quality, and wildlife and their
habitat. Agriculture plays a pivotal role in preserving open space
that is vital to the environment. Seventy-five percent of the nation'
s wildlife live on farms and ranches. Freshwater streams and
stockponds on farms and ranches provide habitat to millions of fish.
Corn, wheat, rice, and other field crops provide bountiful food and
habitat for deer, antelope, ducks, geese, and other wildlife.
(c) Environmental laws should be based on the best scientific
evidence gathered from public and private sources.
(d) Best scientific evidence should include the net environmental
impact provided by agriculture.
(e) Additional research is necessary to adequately inventory the
impact that agriculture has on the environment. Recognition should be
afforded to agricultural activities that produce a net benefit for
the environment, which is consistent with the growing trend of
providing incentives for the private sector to undertake economic
activities that benefit the environment.
564. Unless the context otherwise requires, the following
definitions govern the construction of this article:
(a) "Agricultural activities" means those activities that generate
products as specified in Section 54004.
(b) "Department" means the Department of Food and Agriculture.
(c) "Panel" means the Scientific Advisory Panel on Environmental
(d) "Secretary" means the Secretary of Food and Agriculture.
566. (a) The department shall establish and oversee an
environmental farming program. The program shall provide incentives
to farmers whose practices promote the well-being of ecosystems, air
quality, and wildlife and their habitat.
(b) The department may assist in the compilation of scientific
evidence from public and private sources, including the scientific
community, industry, conservation organizations, and federal, state,
and local agencies identifying the net environmental impacts that
agriculture creates for the environment. The department shall serve
as the depository of this information and provide it to federal,
state, and local governments, as needed.
(c) The department shall conduct the activities specified in this
article with existing resources, to the extent they are available.
568. (a) The secretary shall convene a five-member Scientific
Advisory Panel on Environmental Farming to advise and assist federal,
state, and local government agencies on issues relating to air,
water, and wildlife habitat to do the following:
(1) Review data on the impact that agriculture has on the
environment and recommend to appropriate state agencies data that the
panel approves as scientifically valid. A state agency that receives
data recommended by the panel may adopt and incorporate the data
into the appropriate program. If a state agency does not utilize the
data recommended by the panel, it shall provide the panel with a
written statement of reasons for not utilizing the data. The reasons,
at a minimum, shall specify the scientific basis for not utilizing
the data. The reasons shall be provided within 180 days of receiving
the data from the panel.
(2) Compile the net environmental impacts that agriculture creates
for the environment, identified pursuant to paragraph (1).
(3) Research, review, and comment on data upon which proposed
environmental policies and regulatory programs are based to ensure
that the environmental impacts of agricultural activities are
accurately portrayed and to identify incentives that may be provided
to encourage agricultural practices with environmental benefits.
(4) Assist government agencies to incorporate benefits identified
pursuant to paragraph (1) into environmental regulatory programs.
(b) Members of the panel shall be highly qualified and
professionally active or engaged in the conduct of scientific
research. Of the members first appointed to the panel, two shall
serve for a term of two years and three shall serve for a term of
three years, as determined by lot. Thereafter, members shall be
appointed for a term of three years. The members shall be appointed
(1) Three members shall be appointed by the secretary. At least
one of these members shall have a minimum of five years of training
and experience in the field of agriculture and shall represent
(2) One member, who has a minimum of five years of training and
experience in the field of human health or environmental science,
shall be appointed by the Secretary of the Environmental Protection
(3) One member, who has a minimum of five years of training and
experience in the field of resource management, shall be appointed by
the Secretary of the Resources Agency.
(c) The panel may establish ad hoc committees, which may include
professionals or scientists, to assist it in performing its
(d) The panel shall be created and maintained with funds made
available from existing resources within the department to the extent
they are available.
|SENATE RULES COMMITTEE | SB 367|
|Office of Senate Floor Analyses | |
|(916) 651-1520 Fax: (916) | |
|327-4478 | |
| | |
Bill No: SB 367
Author: Wolk (D)
SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE: 5-0, 4/7/15
AYES: Galgiani, Cannella, Berryhill, Pan, Wolk
SENATE ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY COMMITTEE: 7-0, 4/29/15
AYES: Wieckowski, Gaines, Bates, Hill, Jackson, Leno, Pavley
SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: 7-0, 5/28/15
AYES: Lara, Bates, Beall, Hill, Leyva, Mendoza, Nielsen
SUBJECT: Agricultural lands: greenhouse gases
SOURCE: California Climate and Agricultural Network
Community Alliance with Family Farmers
DIGEST: This bill recasts and expands the membership and the
duties of the California Department of Food and Agriculture's
(CDFA) Science Advisory Panel on Environmental Farming to
include on-farm practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and
increase carbon storage in soil. This bill appropriates $25
million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to CDFA for the
establishment of a new grant program to support these
activities. This bill also appropriates 2% of the proceeds from
this fund to the Strategic Growth Council's Sustainable
Agricultural Lands Conservation Program to also address on-farm
reductions of greenhouse gas and increased carbon storage.
1)Requires the CDFA, through the Cannella Environmental Farming
Act of 1995, to establish and oversee an environmental farming
program that provides incentives to farmers whose practices
promote the well-being of ecosystems, air quality, and
wildlife and their habitat.
2)Establishes the Scientific Advisory Panel on Environmental
Farming (Science Panel) to, among other responsibilities,
advise and assist government agencies on the above issues by
conducting scientific data reviews and approving and
recommending scientifically valid data.
3)Establishes in 2008 the Strategic Growth Council as a
cabinet-level committee that is tasked with coordinating the
activities of member state agencies to, among other things,
improve air and water quality, protect natural resources and
agricultural lands, and assist state and local entities in the
planning of sustainable communities and meeting AB 32 (Nunez,
Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006) goals.
4)Establishes the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities
(AHSC) Program, administered by the Strategic Growth Council
in 2014, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions though
projects that implement land use, housing, transportation, and
agricultural land preservation practices.
5)Establishes the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation
(SALC) Program as one component of the AHSC and is implemented
by the California Department of Conservation (DOC). The
Strategic Growth Council is responsible for overseeing SALC
and coordinating DOC with other agencies to develop program
6)Requires the California Air Resources Board (ARB), through the
California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (referred to
as AB 32, Health and Safety Code §38500 et seq.), to determine
the 1990 statewide GHG emissions level, to approve a statewide
GHG emissions limit equivalent to that level that will be
achieved by 2020, and to adopt GHG emissions reductions
measures by regulation. ARB is authorized to include the use
of market-based mechanisms to comply with the regulations.
All monies, except for fines and penalties, collected pursuant
to a market-based mechanism are deposited in the Greenhouse
Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). (According to the Senate
Environmental Quality Committee analysis).
7)Requires that the GGRF only be used to facilitate the
achievement of reductions of GHG emissions consistent with AB
32 (Health and Safety Code §39710 et seq.). To this end, the
Department of Finance, in consultation with the ARB and any
other relevant state agencies, is required to develop, as
specified, a three-year investment plan for the moneys
deposited in the GGRF. The investment plan must allocate a
minimum of 25% of the funds to projects that benefit
disadvantaged communities and to allocate 10% of the funds to
projects located within disadvantaged communities.
Additionally, ARB, in consultation with California
Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), is required to
develop funding guidelines for administering agencies
receiving allocations of GGRF funds that include a component
for how agencies should maximize benefits to disadvantaged
communities. (According to the Senate Environmental Quality
1) Makes findings and declarations in regards to California
agricultural productivity and agriculture's contribution to
the environment and reduction of GHGs.
2) Renames CDFA's Scientific Advisory Panel on Environmental
Farming to the Environmental Farming Advisory Panel (Advisory
3) Expands the duties of CDFA's Environmental Farming Program
(EFP) to specifically include activities related to the
reduction of on-farm GHG emissions and increased carbon
storage in agricultural soils and woody biomass.
4) Authorizes CDFA to support these on-farm practices and
activities by providing permit assistance and coordination
and the funding of on-farm demonstration projects.
5) Deletes CDFA's authority to assist in the compilation and
depository of scientific data from public and private sources
identifying the net environmental impacts of agriculture on
6) Adds "climate change" to the list of issues that may be
addressed by CDFA's newly termed Advisory Panel when
providing advice and assistance to government agencies.
7) Recasts and expands the duties and membership of the
Advisory Panel as specified.
8) Provides $25 million, upon appropriation by the Legislature,
to CDFA to support on-farm projects to demonstrate
agricultural management practices and activities that reduce
GHG emissions and increase carbon storage in soils and woody
biomass. Projects may include, but are not limited to,
soil-building and carbon-sequestration practices, irrigation
efficiency and water conservation measures, on-farm
alternative-energy production and efficiency, and wildlife
9) Requires CDFA, in consultation with the Advisory Panel, to
develop and implement a grant program to support the
activities listed above.
10)Requires the secretaries of CDFA and the Natural Resources
Agency to enter into a memorandum of agreement, including
other relevant state agencies, to ensure the greatest
possible coordination and collaboration in implementing these
programs and projects.
11)Requires that no less than 2% of GGRF proceeds be
appropriated to the Strategic Growth Council to be expended
for agricultural land protection within the grant program,
12)Requires the Strategic Growth Council to establish and
administer a grant program, as part of the SALC Program, to
provide incentives for the adoption and use of land
management practices that would reduce GHG emissions and
sequester carbon in soils and woody biomass.
The Cannella Environmental Farming Act of 1995 requires the CDFA
to establish and oversee an environmental farming program that
provides incentives to farmers whose practices promote the
well-being of ecosystems, air quality, and wildlife and their
habitat. The act also created the Science Panel to, among other
responsibilities, advise and assist government agencies on these
issues by conducting scientific data reviews and approving and
recommending scientifically valid data. The Science Panel is
also authorized to research, review, and comment on data used as
the base for proposed environmental policies and regulatory
programs so that agricultural activities are accurately
portrayed and to identify incentives to encourage agricultural
practices with environmental benefits.
The Strategic Growth Council was created in 2008 as a
cabinet-level committee that is tasked with coordinating the
activities of member state agencies to improve air and water
quality, protect natural resources and agricultural lands,
increase the availability of affordable housing, promote public
health, improve transportation, encourage greater infill and
compact development, revitalize community and urban centers, and
assist state and local entities in the planning of sustainable
communities and meeting AB 32 goals.
The AHSC Program, administered by the Strategic Growth Council,
was created in 2014 to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
though projects that implement land use, housing,
transportation, and agricultural land preservation practices.
The AHSC Program receives 20% of the annual proceeds from the
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to achieve these goals (SB 862 of
2014; Health and Safety Code § 39719).
The SALC Program is one component of the AHSC and is implemented
by the DOC. The Strategic Growth Council is responsible for
overseeing the SALC Program and coordinating DOC with other
agencies to develop program guidelines.
Guidelines for the SALC Program were approved by the Strategic
Growth Council on January 20, 2015, and include three major
elements: 1) sustainable agricultural land strategy plans, which
would provide grants to develop local strategies to ensure
long-term protection of highly productive and critically
threatened agricultural land; 2) agricultural conservation
easements; and 3) financial incentives for adoption and use of
land management practices. The guidelines specifically state
that the third element is not included in the 2014 request for
grant applications, but will be addressed in future years.
Background on Cap-and-Trade Funds. ARB has conducted ten
cap-and-trade auctions, generating almost $1.6 billion in
proceeds to the state.
Budget allocations. The 2014-15 Budget allocates $832 million
in GGRF revenues to a variety of transportation, energy, and
resources programs aimed at reducing GHG emissions. Various
agencies are in the process of implementing this funding. The
budget agreement specifies how the state will allocate most
cap-and-trade auction revenues in 2015-16 and beyond. For all
future revenues, the legislation appropriates 25% for the
state's high-speed rail project, 20% for affordable housing and
sustainable communities grants, 10% to intercity capital rail
projects, and 5% for low-carbon transit operations. The
remaining 40% is available for annual appropriation by the
Legislature. (According to the Senate Environmental Quality
Agriculture and Climate Change. Farmers and ranchers are
uniquely sensitive to the effects of climate change as
agriculture is largely dependent upon uncertain weather patterns
and the availability of natural resources. For example, the
current multi-year drought has caused many farmers to fallow
fields, sell livestock due to lack of available grazing, and
lay-off employees due to reduced workload and productivity.
The potential for agriculture to contribute to the reduction of
climate change by sequestering carbon and reducing GHG emissions
is not fully realized or utilized. Plants absorb CO2 from the
atmosphere and use it to grow, produce fruits and vegetables,
and to also store carbon in the soil. Animals produce manure
that could be used to create energy (through methane digesters),
compost, and several other valuable products, while reducing the
emission of methane and other GHG. Land management practices
have been and are continuing to be adopted to reduce negative
effects on the environment such as drip irrigation, reduced land
tillage, nitrogen management, and the use of cover crops. This
bill would provide funding to continue the development and
implementation of on-farm management practices to further the
environmental benefits of California's agricultural lands.
[Note: See Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate
Environmental Quality Committee analyses for a full discussion
of this bill]
FISCAL EFFECT: Appropriation: Yes Fiscal
According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, "This bill
would specify that $25 million shall be available, upon
appropriation by the Legislature, to support three specific
programs at CDFA."
SUPPORT: (Verified 6/2/15)
California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) (co-source)
Community Alliance with Family Farmers (co-source)
Agricola: flora et fauna
Alameda County Resource Conservation District
American Farmland Trust
Association of Compost Producers
Berry Blest Farm
Big Bluff Ranch
Burroughs Family Farms
Burroughs Family Orchards
Burrows Ranch, Inc.
Cachuma Resource Conservation District
California Association of Resource Conservation Districts
California Certified Organic Farmers
California Cloverleaf Farms
California Compost Coalition
California Farm Bureau Federation
California Institute for Rural Studies
California League of Conservation Voters
California State Grange
Californians Against Waste
Camp Grant Ranch
Carbon Cycle Institute
Center for Food Safety
Central Valley Farmland Trust
Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation
Community Environmental Council
Defenders of Wildlife
Dixon Ridge Farms
Eaton Cattle Co.
Ecological Farming Association
Eden Urban Farms
Environmental Action Committee of West Marin
Environmental Defense Fund
Four Elements Organics
Frog Hollow Farm
Full Belly Farm
Grass Valley Grains
Green Oaks Creek Farm
Hilltop & Canyon Farms
Humboldt Regeneration Brewery & Farm
Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo
Kern Family Farm
Land Trust of Santa Cruz County
Live Earth Farm
Markegard Family Grass-Fed, LLC
Molino Creek Farm
Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
Peninsula Open Space Trust
Porter Creek Vineyards
Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County
Rominger Brothers Farm
Roots of Change
San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project
San Mateo County Resource Conservation District
Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority
Sierra Farms Lamb
Sonoma Resource Conservation District
Sustainable Agriculture Education
Swanton Berry Farm
The Mendocino Grain Project
The Trust for Public Land
Travaille & Phippen, Inc.
Valley Land Alliance
Wild Farm Alliance
Wild Willow Farm and Education Center
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
California Chamber of Commerce
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT: According to the author, "The
modernization of the twenty-year old Environmental Farming Act
gives the California Department of Food and Agriculture the
authority and resources to more effectively deliver programs and
improve growers' access to resources for addressing climate
change and other pressing environmental concerns."
According to those in support, "Growers around the state have
already begun to see the effects of drought, decreased chilling
hours and extreme heat on their productivity and profitability.
At the same time, growers and scientists recognize the
tremendous potential for agriculture and agricultural lands to
not only reduce existing greenhouse gas emissions, but also to
draw down atmospheric carbon into soils and woody biomass."
ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION: According to the California Chamber
of Commerce, "CalChamber supports the cost-effective
implementation of AB 32. CARB's decision to arbitrarily
withhold and sell (auction) allowances will raise billions of
dollars at the expense of California businesses and consumers.
This approach runs contrary to expressed goals of AB 32, which
is maximizing benefits and minimizing leakage risks and costs.
As CalChamber has long held, CARB lacks authority to raise
revenue through the auction of allowances. Given the
substantial legal uncertainties surrounding CARB's authority to
impose an auction, expending the proceeds is premature;"
therefore the California Chamber of Commerce is opposed to this
bill that would fund on-farm agricultural management projects
with AB 32 auction revenues.