Jul 22, 2020
California sets workshops to enhance healthy soils practices

The California Department of Food and Agriculture and California Air Resources Board will hold a series of stakeholder workshops on the development of a framework for public-private partnerships to invest in scaling up healthy soils practices.

In addition to CDFA and CARB, staff from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will also participate in the workshop.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA’s) Healthy Soils Program provides financial incentives to Californian growers and ranchers to implement conservation management practices that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases, and improve soil health. The Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel (EFA SAP), which advises the Healthy Soils Program, has received several proposals to expand this program with the support of partners in the private sector.

“There is tremendous interest in supporting farmers who are implementing practices to build soil organic matter to sequester carbon and improve drought and climate resiliency,” said CDFA secretary Karen Ross. “This is a perfect time to explore how we develop a framework to coordinate private sector efforts that align with the CDFA and NRCS cost-share programs to greatly expand the number of acres participating in incentive programs.”

The framework would act as a roadmap for organizations that have already expressed interest in partnering with the state to invest in healthy agricultural soils as well as organizations that may be interested in doing so in the future. 

“The Healthy Soils program serves both the interests of California’s world-leading agriculture industry and the state’s efforts to limit the worst impacts of the climate change we are already experiencing,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “We encourage potential private partners to get involved.”

The development of this framework will take place over the course of three workshops. The first workshop will include the purpose and goals of this effort and presentations from CDFA, USDA NRCS, and CARB about existing healthy soils grant programs and greenhouse gas emissions quantification methodology. The second and third workshops will focus on framework development within the context of these existing programs. 

“We are excited to be working with CDFA and CARB in this effort to expand and coordinate healthy soils practices in California,” added NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez. “Many of our Farm Bill resources also target soil health, water quality and quantity, as well as air quality. Working with public and private partners to coordinate activities, avoid duplication, and take advantage of each partner’s unique capabilities makes dollars go further and conservation efforts more effective.”

The workshops will be held via webinar and the agenda can be found on the Healthy Soils Initiative website. Participants must register in advance for workshops on the following dates:

July 29, 2020 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PT


August 17, 2020 8 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT


September 1, 2020 8 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT


There will be a written comment period on the development of the framework. Questions and comments should be submitted to [email protected] by 5 p.m. PT, August 21, 2020. Questions and corresponding answers will be posted on our webpage (https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/healthysoils/partnerships.html)  shortly thereafter.

Photo: James Cridland

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