Last week California lawmakers enacted a budget action that will provide much-needed support for small and underserved producers. Senate Bill 85 contains significant support for wildfire suppression efforts as well as funding assistance for farmers and ranchers. Unanimously passed in both the Senate and Assembly and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, the legislation appropriates $3.35 million to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The funding will enable CDFA to provide technical assistance to underserved agricultural workers and farmers.
“Community Alliance with Family Farmers commends Governor Gavin Newsom and the state legislature for providing on-the ground technical assistance to small-scale and socially disadvantaged farmers,” CAFF Executive Director Paul Towers said in a press release. “This investment will make farmers more successful. Not only is direct aid essential but so is the support from trusted and experienced partner organizations to assist farmers in navigating the myriad of state and federal COVID relief programs.”
The budget action also provides funding to support a micro-grant program for small, mid-sized, and underserved farmers administered by CDFA. Funding provided through the measure will support the hiring of new University of California personnel that specialize in working with small farms. The additional technical assistance and personnel will be instrumental in helping farmers access federal assistance. The purpose of the support is to assist small and underserved farmers impacted by the pandemic to gain access to recovery resources.
Multiple lawmakers have been enthusiastic about including farming assistance funding in Senate Bill 85. Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, Assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, and Robert Rivas each explicitly expressed their support for the recent budget action. “This funding to CDFA for the UC Cooperative Extension to provide technical assistance and grants will provide desperately needed relief to our small, mid-sized, and underserved farmers to access federal disaster assistance,” said Aguiar-Curry.