Today's Law As Amended


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AB-1289 Smart Climate Agriculture Program: plant-based agriculture.(2021-2022)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) The state faces challenges in addressing climate change, preserving and protecting the state’s agricultural working lands, and helping at-risk farmers keep their businesses and keep up with the food consumption demands of a growing population.
(2) The Legislature has taken significant steps towards establishing policies and programs to preserve and protect the environment, combat climate change, provide for the health and well-being of all people, and support the state’s farmers.
(3) The state has some of the world’s most productive agricultural lands, representing a large fraction of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in the United States. However, instead of feeding people, much of this production is used to cultivate feed crops for livestock. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 36 percent of corn grown in the United States and 75 percent of soybeans grown in the United States are used to feed livestock.
(4) The state has seen a notable increase in the amount of land devoted to the cultivation of field crops such as haylage, greenchop, and alfalfa, which are predominantly grown in areas of the state where there are dairy farms and feedlots.
(5) Studies have shown that livestock and feed production are contributors to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. By transitioning livestock and feed crop farming to more plant-based agriculture, the state can reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases, provide a sufficient supply of food for a growing population, and diversify the agricultural lands of the state.
(6) Plant-based agriculture can benefit society in various ways, such as, by improving the health and well-being of all people by promoting plant-based diets. An increase in plant-based agriculture can help expand the supply of locally grown fruits and vegetables and provide greater distribution of those fruits and vegetables to inner-city food deserts. Studies have shown that plant-based diets help lower cholesterol, increase the consumption of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, and lower the risk of chronic health conditions. By emphasizing the importance of plant-based foods, residents of the state can make choices that will improve their health.
(7) The current world population is 7.6 billion people, and is projected to grow by 1.1 percent a year, with estimates reaching 8.6 billion people by the year 2030 and 9.8 billion by the year 2050. As the world population grows, plant-based agriculture can help aide and support the future demands placed on our food supply.
(8) Small to midsize family farms who transition from livestock, dairy, or crop feed farming over to plant-based agriculture will create job opportunities as market demand for plant-based products continues to grow.
(b) (1) By keeping small to midsize farms in operation and diversifying the state’s working lands, it is the intent of the Legislature to increase agricultural revenue in the state and help the state become a leader in supplying and processing plant-based foods and products.
(2) It is further the intent of the Legislature that it be the policy of this state to adopt additional practices that will protect and preserve the state’s environment and natural resources as the population continues to grow. By encouraging plant-based foods and practices, the state can improve its efforts to implement this policy.

SEC. 2.

 Article 7.5 (commencing with Section 540) is added to Chapter 3 of Part 1 of Division 1 of the Food and Agricultural Code, to read:

Article  7.5. Smart Climate Agriculture Program
540.
 For purposes of this article, the following definitions apply:
(a) “Expert assistance” means assistance from an agricultural scientist, climatologist, pedologist, horticulturist, hydrologist, or agronomist for assessment, design, planning, and best management practices of a land-use transition to plant-based agriculture.
(b) “Feed crop” means a crop that is grown for livestock consumption.
(c) “Livestock” means poultry, cattle, dairy cows, sheep, swine, goat, or fish.
(d) “Plant-based agriculture” means any farming that uses crops for growing inputs for plant-based products and does not include livestock farming, dairy, or any crop production for livestock feed.
(e) “Program” means the Smart Climate Agriculture Program.
(f) “Technical assistance” means outreach, education, expert assistance, legal support for contractual barriers, project planning, project design, grant application assistance, buyer expertise and packaging assistance, project implementation, or project reporting assistance provided to a farmer to improve their successful participation in the program.
(g) “Technical assistance provider” means resource conservation districts, the University of California Cooperative Extension, and nonprofit organizations, with demonstrated technical expertise in designing and implementing agricultural management practices.
541.
 The Smart Climate Agriculture Program is hereby established in the department. The department shall administer the program and shall do all of the following as part of the program:
(a) Provide grants to persons farming on small to midsize farms to transition the use of the land from raising livestock or growing feed crops to plant-based agriculture.
(b) Develop best practices for transitioning land used for raising livestock or growing feed crops to plant-based agriculture.
(c) Provide technical assistance, in consultation with technical assistance providers, to persons farming on small to midsize farms.
(d) Develop a rubric to prioritize applications for farmers to transition to sustainable crops in the following order:
(1) Less water-intensive crops in high demand.
(2) Less water-intensive crops in low demand.
(3) High water-intensive crops in high demand.
(4) High water-intensive crops in low demand.
542.
 The department shall require an applicant for a grant to submit all of the following to the department in the application:
(a) A description of the land that will be transitioned from raising livestock or growing feed crops to plant-based agriculture.
(b) A plan that demonstrates how the applicant will transition the land described in subdivision (a) to plant-based agriculture using the best practices developed by the department pursuant to Section 541.
(c) Any other information the department deems necessary.
543.
 The department shall require a person who receives a grant to
provide a report, in consultation with a technical assistance provider, to the department that demonstrates that the grant recipient is transitioning to plant-based agriculture.