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SB-253 Cannella Environmental Farming Act of 1995: Environmental Farming Incentive Program. (2019-2020)

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Date Published: 08/14/2019 09:00 PM
SB253:v94#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  August 14, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  July 09, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  June 17, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  April 29, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  March 14, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 253


Introduced by Senator Dodd
(Coauthor: Senator Stern)

February 11, 2019


An act to amend Section Sections 568 and 570 of, and to add Section 567 to, the Food and Agricultural Code, relating to agriculture.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 253, as amended, Dodd. Cannella Environmental Farming Act of 1995: Environmental Farming Incentive Program.
Existing law, the Cannella Environmental Farming Act of 1995, requires the Department of Food and Agriculture to establish and oversee an environmental farming program to provide 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, as prescribed, for the purpose of providing advice to the secretary on the implementation of the Healthy Soils Program and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program and assistance to federal, state, and local government agencies on issues relating to the impact of agricultural practices on air, water, and wildlife habitat, as specified.
This bill would additionally require the panel to assist government agencies to incorporate the conservation of natural resources and ecosystem services practices into agricultural programs. The bill would require the department, with advice from the panel, to establish and administer the California Environmental Farming Incentive Program, subject to an appropriation by the Legislature. The bill would require the program to support on-farm practices seeking to optimize environmental benefits while supporting the economic viability of California agriculture by providing incentives, educational materials, and outreach to farmers whose or ranchers who want to pursue adopting management practices that contribute to wildlife habitat and result in on-farm activities that provide multiple conservation benefits, as prescribed. The bill would require the department, in consultation with the panel, to determine priorities for the program and give priority to specified projects, such as those that occur in and benefit certain disadvantaged communities. socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. The bill would create the California Environmental Farming Incentive Program Fund in the State Treasury, and upon appropriation by the Legislature, authorize the department to expend funds for purposes of the program. The bill would require the department to provide funds for incentives to private landowners, nonprofit organizations, the University of California Cooperative Extension, or local agencies, including resource conservation districts, for activities that support the program and implementation of on-farm practices. The bill would require the department, when providing funds for technical assistance, to provide funds directly to a resource conservation district, and would authorize the department to provide funds directly to the University of California Cooperative Extension in regions where the department determines that a resource conservation district is not capable of providing technical assistance.
Existing law requires the department to establish a technical assistance grant program to provide funds to technical assistance providers, as defined, to provide assistance to Healthy Soils Program, alternative manure management practices programs, and State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program applicants, as prescribed.
This bill would include the California Environmental Farming Incentive Program as a program that the technical assistance grant program may provide funds to provide assistance for applicants. The bill would revise the definition of technical assistance for the purpose of the grant program.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 567 is added to the Food and Agricultural Code, to read:

567.
 (a) (1) Upon an appropriation of funds for the purposes of this section, the department, with advice from the Scientific Advisory Panel on Environmental Farming convened pursuant to Section 568, shall establish and administer the California Environmental Farming Incentive Program. The department shall ensure the program complements and does not supplant existing programs in the department. The program shall support on-farm practices seeking to optimize environmental benefits while supporting the economic viability of California agriculture by providing incentives, educational materials, and outreach to farmers whose or ranchers who want to pursue adopting management practices that contribute to wildlife habitat and result in on-farm activities that provide multiple conservation benefits. The program may also include the funding of on-farm demonstration projects that further the goals of the program.
(2) The department, in consultation with the panel, may determine priorities for the program and give priority to projects that occur in and benefit socially disadvantaged communities, farmers or ranchers, show promise of being replicable in other parts of the state, or provide environmental and agronomic cobenefits, such as improved air and water quality, enhanced groundwater recharge and surface water supplies, and wildlife habitat. For the purpose of improving water supply and water quality conditions for fish and wildlife on private lands, the program may provide incentives to landowners for conservation actions on private lands designed to be appropriately flexible and responsive to the highly variable amounts of water required by fish and wildlife. The program may provide funding for land fallowing to enhance groundwater supplies. supplies and provide wildlife habitat in support of implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act pursuant to Part 2.74 (commencing with Section 10720) of Division 6 of the Water Code.
(3) The panel shall also advise the department on scientific findings, program framework, guidelines, grower incentives, and providing technical assistance.
(4) The department, in consultation with the panel, shall review and adopt the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation practices as outlined in the service’s technical guide, except for those practices that are inapplicable to California or California, are in conflict with state law. law, or are existing practices being implemented by the department. The department may also adopt additional practices, to create, with the other adopted practices, a suite of practices that are in the best interest of the resources of California to be incentivized through the program.
(5) The panel may advise the department on a simplified and coordinated application process to streamline and improve farmer and rancher access to incentive funding from the California Environmental Farming Incentive Program, Healthy Soils Program, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, and other environmental farming incentives.

(5)

(6) If the department elects to fund on-farm demonstration projects described in paragraph (1), the department, in consultation with the panel, shall establish a technical advisory committee to review on-farm demonstration project applications for multiple conservation benefits.
(b) (1) The department may pursue moneys from public and private sources, which shall be deposited in the California Environmental Farming Incentive Program Fund that is hereby created in the State Treasury. Moneys in the fund may be expended by the department, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for purposes of the program.
(2) (A) The department shall provide funds for incentives to private landowners, nonprofit organizations, the University of California Cooperative Extension, or local agencies, including resource conservation districts, for activities that support the program and implementation of on-farm practices.

(A)

(B) In providing funds for technical assistance, the department shall provide funds directly to a resource conservation district. Funds provided to a resource conservation district may be used for workforce recruitment, training, and equipment purchases for purposes of the program. district or the University of California Cooperative Extension in accordance with Section 570. The department may award technical assistance grants to a nonprofit organization with relevant and adequate expertise in accordance with Section 570.

(B)The department may provide funds directly to the University of California Cooperative Extension in regions where the department determines that a resource conservation district is not capable of providing technical assistance under the program.

(3) Moneys in the fund shall be expended to prioritize multiple conservation benefits and consistent with existing regulatory compliance measures and requirements.
(c) For the purposes of the program, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Enhanced groundwater recharge or surface water supplies” means improved surface and groundwater supply the increase in natural or managed infiltration of water into a groundwater aquifer and water dedicated to streamflows or habitat enhancement.
(2) “Incentives” means loans, contracts, grants, voluntary agreements, research, education, outreach, and technical assistance.
(3) “Multiple conservation benefits” means a project that serves more than one purpose, including, but not limited to, the following purposes:
(A) Flood management.
(B) Water supply.
(C) Water quality improvement.
(D) Environmental enhancement and restoration.
(E) Energy conservation.
(F) Reduction of emission of greenhouse gases.
(G) Fish, waterfowl, and wildlife habitat improvement.
(H) Control and elimination of invasive species.
(I) Non-lethal wildlife deterrent.
(J) Activities that increase fire resiliency and forest and rangeland health.

(I)

(K) Other plant and wildlife habitat improvement to increase the natural system value of the property.
(4) “On-farm demonstration projects” means projects that incorporate farm or ranch management practices that result in habitat and environmental benefits across all farming types with the intent to promote conservation and ecosystem services.
(5) “Panel” means the Scientific Advisory Panel on Environmental Farming established pursuant to Section 568.

(6)“Technical assistance” means assisting applicants in applying for programs, providing technical expertise on project design, providing ongoing technical advice on the implementation of practices and alterations in projects, and creating overall management plans for land and farming and ranching operations.

(6) “Socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher” has the same meaning as provided in Section 512.

SEC. 2.

 Section 568 of the Food and Agricultural Code is amended to read:

568.
 (a) The secretary shall convene a nine-member Scientific Advisory Panel on Environmental Farming to advise the secretary on the implementation of the California Environmental Farming Incentive Program established pursuant to Section 567, the Healthy Soils Program established pursuant to Section 569, 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, 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 to do the following:
(1) Review data on the impact that agriculture has on the environment and recommend to the secretary and appropriate state agencies the best available science on environmental impacts of agriculture, as well as practices and policies based on that information to advance the goals of this article, including Section 569.
(2) Compile the net environmental impacts that agriculture creates for the environment, identified pursuant to paragraph (1).
(3) Research, review, and comment on data upon which proposed environmental policies and regulatory programs are based to ensure that the environmental impacts of agricultural activities are accurately portrayed and to identify incentives that may be provided to encourage agricultural practices with environmental benefits.
(4) Assist government agencies to incorporate policies and practices identified pursuant to paragraph (1) into environmental regulatory programs.
(5) Assist government agencies to incorporate the conservation of natural resources and ecosystem services practices into agricultural programs.
(b) (1) Members of the panel shall be highly qualified and professionally active or engaged in the conduct of scientific research. Of the members first appointed to the panel, two shall serve for a term of two years and three shall serve for a term of three years, as determined by lot. Thereafter, members shall be appointed for a term of three years. The members shall be appointed as follows:
(A) Five members shall be appointed by the secretary as follows:
(i) At least two members shall have a minimum of five years of training and experience in the field of agriculture and shall represent production agriculture.
(ii) At least one member shall have training and field experience in on-farm management practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon, or both.
(iii) At least one member shall be certified as a producer pursuant to federal Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. Sec. 6501 et seq.).
(iv) At least one member shall have technical expertise in agricultural conservation planning and management.
(B) Two members shall be appointed by the Secretary for Environmental Protection. One shall have a minimum of five years of training and experience in the field of human health or environmental science, and one shall have expertise in greenhouse gas emissions reductions practices related to agriculture.
(C) Two members who have a minimum of five years of training and experience in the field of resource management shall be appointed by the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency. One member shall additionally have expertise in climate change adaptation and climate change impacts in the agricultural sector.
(2) The secretary may also appoint, in consultation with the panel, ex officio nonvoting members to the panel.
(c) The panel may establish ad hoc committees, which may include professionals, scientists, or representatives of nongovernmental entities, to assist it in performing its functions.
(d) The panel shall be created and maintained with funds made available from existing resources within the department to the extent they are available.
(e) The State Air Resources Board shall consult with the secretary and the panel, as appropriate, in developing the quantification methods described in subdivision (b) of Section 16428.9 of the Government Code as it relates to the demonstration and quantification of on-farm greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

SEC. 3.

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

570.
 (a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) “Grant program” means the technical assistance grant program established pursuant to subdivision (c).
(2) “Programs” means the California Environmental Farming Incentive Program established pursuant to Section 567, 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.
(3) “Technical assistance” means ongoing outreach, education, project planning, project design, grant application assistance, project implementation, or project reporting assistance provided to a farmer or rancher to improve his or her assistance, or creating overall management plans for land and farming and ranching operations that improve 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 and 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.