As Governor Gavin Newsom waits to sign the California budget, many in the agriculture industry are cautiously optimistic about funding allotments. Although there were significant reductions to meaningful agricultural programs such as the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP) and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), the cuts could have been much more severe. There is also an understanding that funding allotments tend to be fluid in nature and there is always another opportunity for increased funding next year.
“I think overall, for agriculture, this budget is a win and a testament to our sticking together and working together to achieve positive outcomes,” said Jim Houston, Administrator for the California Farm Bureau Federation. “We look forward to having discussions next year about how we can further that.”
Much of the focus surrounding the California budget has been related to clean drinking water. The budget agreement has committed $100 million from cap-and-trade revenue, which impacts several agricultural programs that receive support from that same fund. One of the programs that saw its funding reduced substantially is the Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) Program which has been budgeted for $65 million. While the funding amount was below what CFBF and other agricultural interests were requesting, there were other parties looking to cut the funding amount even further. “At the end of the day, we’re happy with what we’ve got,” Houston noted. “One perspective at the table was zero dollars.”
SWEEP is also receiving a reduction in funding, however, Houston said that the program will continue on due to its diversification of funding support. “There’s still Proposition funding that was made available,” Houston stated. “So that money is still being rolled out in the SWEEP program so folks are still encouraged to apply.”
Another program that will be receiving less funding under the new budget is AMMP, which Houston describes as “one of the most effective programs on a per-dollar basis in terms of reductions.” Houston also noted a particular level of hostility towards the overall dairy industry from some lawmakers in Sacramento, making funding requests all the more difficult.
“That’s a reality of what we face in the Capitol,” said Houston. “It’s just incumbent upon us to educate, to outreach and to be present and to advocate to make sure that folks understand what the real facts are, what the data says, and what the science says and make decisions based on that.”
Listen to Houston’s interview below.