The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has announced that a total of 316 projects have been awarded grants under the Healthy Soils Program Incentives Program. A total of $22.06 million in grant funding has been approved for the implementation of healthy soil practices on an estimated 30,700 acres of California agricultural lands. The projects are also expected to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an estimated 73,800 tons annually.
“The number of applicants is testament to the value and popularity of this program,” CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said in a press release. “We are excited to see such an enthusiastic response to the program and the improvements we implemented to streamline the application process. Soil health is gaining more and more attention as a key element in addressing climate change and increasing soil organic matter for drought resiliency.”
It was the first year that applications for the Healthy Soils Program were accepted on a rolling basis, with a deadline of June 26 or until the funding was exhausted. CDFA closed the application period on May 15 after receiving tremendous interest in the program. There were 578 applications that were submitted requesting nearly $38 million in grant funding. There were also several changes made to the program for the 2020 funding cycle to help make the application process simpler and better align with USDA’s National Resource Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
The Healthy Soils Program is administered by CDFA’s Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation as part of the California Climate Investments program which uses Cap-and-Trade dollars to further efforts to reduce GHG emissions and strengthen and improve public health and the environment. The funding for the 316 projects approved for 2020 is secure, however, there is concern regarding future funding support for the program as the state navigates budget constraints related to COVID-19 moving forward.