LandFlex grants are being issued to three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) by the Department of Water Resources (DWR). A total of $25 million has been awarded by DWR and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The program has been designed to help bring GSAs into early compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The Madera County GSA was awarded $9.3 million as part of the first batch of funding. Both the Greater Kaweah GSA and Eastern Tule GSA have also been granted $7 million each. Chief Executive Officer of Western United Dairies (WUD), Anja Raudabaugh said the program could be a viable option for many farmers.
“If you are a farmer in one of these selected GSAs, we encourage you to take a look at this program,” said Raudabaugh. “You can go to LandFlex.org and you can learn more about what’s in it, what’s involved, what you’d be giving up, and what you’d be getting in exchange. It’s working out to be about $6,500 to $7,800 an acre. But there are some caveats that significantly separate this from other fallowing programs.”
The long-term benefit of the voluntary incentive program is keeping an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 acre-feet of groundwater in the ground. Small- and medium-sized farming operations are being especially encouraged to participate in the program. WUD is among the partner organizations that will be engaging with farmers about opportunities available through LandFlex grants. Other outreach partners include the Almond Alliance, Self-Help Enterprises, and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. Raudabaugh said they would be helping farmers with applications in all languages.
“I want to really encourage everyone to take a look at this. It is voluntary. It may work for your farm, and it may not,” Raudabaugh explained. “But we’re really trying to provide another tool to both farmers and GSAs in a time of uncertainty and what they can do with SGMA.”