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AB-2482 Agriculture: environmental farming programs and grants.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 02/19/2020 09:00 PM
AB2482:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 2482


Introduced by Assembly Members Mark Stone and Bauer-Kahan

February 19, 2020


An act to amend Section 570 of, and to add Section 568.5 to, the Food and Agricultural Code, relating to agriculture.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2482, as introduced, Mark Stone. Agriculture: environmental farming programs and grants.
Existing law, the Cannella Environmental Farming Act of 1995, requires the Department of Food and Agriculture 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 requires the Secretary of Food and Agriculture to convene the Scientific Advisory Panel on Environmental Farming (panel), as prescribed, to advise the secretary on the implementation of the Healthy Soils Program and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, as described, and to assist federal, state, and local government agencies, as appropriate or necessary, on issues relating to the impact of agricultural practices on air, water, and wildlife habitat, as specified.
Existing law requires the department to establish a technical assistance grant program to provide funds to technical assistance providers, as defined, to provide technical assistance to applicants of the Healthy Soils Program, alternative manure management practices programs, and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program. Existing law requires the secretary to make available to the grant program not less than 5% of the funds appropriated to the department for those programs, but not more than $5,000,000, for providing technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who apply for grants from those programs, with priority given to farms and ranches that are 500 acres or less, and supporting annual information sharing among technical assistance providers, the department, and other relevant stakeholders for the continuous improvement of programmatic guidelines, application processes, and relevant climate change and agricultural research. Existing law requires the department to ensure that at least 25% of the grant program funds are used to provide technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, as defined.
This bill would require the department, upon appropriation by the Legislature of additional funds, to administer the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (grant program) to provide grants to agricultural operations to implement irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and energy use and increase water use efficiency, as prescribed. The bill would also require the department to fund culturally competent training on irrigation and nutrient management, authorize the department to contract with qualified third parties to measure grant program outcomes, and require the department to adopt guidelines for the grant program. The bill would require the secretary to convene, by April 1, 2021, an ad hoc technical advisory committee of the panel and require the committee to make, by July 1, 2022, recommendations to the panel and secretary regarding certain aspects of the grant program, as specified. The bill prohibits members of the committee from applying for grants from the grant program while they serve on the committee.
The bill would revise the definition of “technical assistance,” for purposes of the technical assistance grant program, to specifically include training. The bill would also make a conforming change.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 568.5 is added to the Food and Agricultural Code, to read:

568.5.
 (a) For purposes of this section, “grant program” means the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program established by the department from moneys made available pursuant to Chapter 2 of the Statutes of 2014.
(b) Upon appropriation by the Legislature of additional funds for the grant program, the department shall administer the grant program in accordance with all of the following:
(1) The department shall provide financial assistance in the form of grants to agricultural operations to implement irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and energy use and increase water use efficiency, subject to both of the following:
(A) The department shall prioritize financial assistance for farms and ranches of 500 acres or less and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as defined in Section 512.
(B) The department may consider and prioritize projects that provide cobenefits, including, but not limited to, improved water quality, groundwater recharge, on-farm water storage, and surface water efficiency.
(2) The department may fund on-farm irrigation system improvements as part of a joint agriculture water use efficiency program with the Department of Water Resources, which shall demonstrate the potential multiple benefits of conveyance enhancements combined with on-farm agricultural water use efficiency improvements.
(3) With funds appropriated pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 570, the department shall fund culturally competent training on irrigation and nutrient management, including, but not limited to, distribution uniformity, irrigation scheduling, and irrigation system maintenance. The training shall target farm operators responsible for the day-to-day scheduling, maintenance, and management of irrigation systems. Trainings shall be free of charge for grant program recipients and available to members of the public.
(4) The department may contract with qualified third parties to measure grant program outcomes described in paragraph (1).
(c) (1) The secretary shall adopt guidelines for awarding funds under the grant program.
(2) Not later than April 1, 2021, the secretary shall convene an ad hoc technical advisory committee of the panel.
(3) Not later than July 1, 2022, the technical advisory committee shall make recommendations to the panel and secretary regarding the grant program’s guidelines, quantification methods, application process, and scoring criteria to improve the following:
(A) Greenhouse gas emission and energy use reductions, water use efficiency, and cobenefits described in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (b).
(B) Participation in the grant program by agricultural operations that have historically had limited participation, including operations in southern California, operations that receive pressurized water delivery from irrigation districts or municipalities, operations that use portable irrigation pumps, and operations owned or managed by socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
(C) Coordination and promotion of the grant program with irrigation districts, groundwater sustainability agencies, the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, and resource conservation districts.
(4) Members of the technical advisory committee are prohibited from applying for grants from the grant program while they serve on the committee.

SEC. 2.

 Section 570 of the Food and Agricultural Code is amended to read:

570.
 (a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Grant program” means the technical assistance grant program established pursuant to subdivision (c).
(2) “Programs” means the Healthy Soils Program established pursuant to Section 569, alternative manure management practices programs, and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program established by the department from moneys made available pursuant to Chapter 2 of the Statutes of 2014. pursuant to Section 568.5.
(3) “Technical assistance” means outreach, education, project planning, project design, grant application assistance, project implementation, training, or project reporting assistance provided to a farmer or rancher to improve their successful participation in the programs.
(4) “Technical assistance providers” means resource conservation districts, the University of California Cooperative Extension, and nonprofit organizations, with demonstrated technical expertise in designing and implementing agricultural management practices to achieve the purposes identified in subdivision (b).
(b) The secretary shall make available not less than 5 percent of the funds appropriated to the department for the programs, but not more than five million dollars ($5,000,000), to the grant program established pursuant to subdivision (c) for both of the following purposes:
(1) Providing technical assistance, pursuant to subdivision (c), to farmers and ranchers who apply for grants from the programs, prioritizing that technical assistance to farms and ranches that are 500 acres or less.
(2) Supporting annual information sharing among technical assistance providers, the department, and other relevant stakeholders for the continuous improvement of programmatic guidelines, application processes, and relevant climate change and agricultural research.
(c) The department shall establish a technical assistance grant program to provide funds to technical assistance providers to provide technical assistance to program applicants, including, but not limited to, conducting initial program outreach to farmers and ranchers, and assisting farmers and ranchers to submit grant applications under the programs to the department department, and assisting with project design, development, and implementation. The grant program shall do all of the following:
(1) Establish criteria and guidelines for technical assistance providers to qualify to receive grants to provide technical assistance. The criteria and guidelines shall require technical assistance providers to demonstrate expertise in working with California farmers and ranchers on projects relevant to one or more of the purposes identified in subdivision (b). The department shall coordinate grant program guideline development and outreach with the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.
(2) Establish a process for technical assistance providers to apply to the department to receive grants to provide technical assistance. Grant applications shall include, at minimum, a work plan that identifies which of the purposes identified in subdivision (b) will be targeted by the technical assistance provider, specific activities that will be undertaken to maximize farmer and rancher program participation and project success, an estimate of the number of farmers and ranchers to be served by the technical assistance provider, and a statement of qualifications of its relevant staff and project partners.
(3) Ensure at least 25 percent of the grant program funds are used to provide technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, as defined in Section 512.
(4) Review grant program applications from technical assistance providers and recommend grant awardees to the secretary.
(5) Allow direct project costs and a percentage of overhead expenses, to be determined by the secretary, to be funded as part of the grant awards.
(6) Consult with the Scientific Advisory Panel on Environmental Farming on grant program design, guidelines, and outreach for the technical assistance to improve coordination and information sharing on technical assistance strategies and activities for the department’s programs.
(d) The department shall provide an update to the Scientific Advisory Panel on Environmental Farming on or before January 31, 2021, on the grant program, including grant program outcomes, ongoing technical assistance needs for the programs, and future plans for the grant program.
(e) The secretary shall award grants to technical assistance providers of no less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) and up to one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) annually for no more than three years, for a total grant of not more than three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000) per technical assistance provider. A technical assistance provider that demonstrates on its application that the majority of the persons it provides technical assistance to are socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers shall receive priority consideration for additional grant program funding to cover translation services, the production of outreach materials, and additional outreach-related expenses.