For this reason, we support the state's Climate Smart Agriculture programs because they provide much-needed resources to protect farmland, conserve water and energy, reduce methane emissions on dairies, and improve soil health. In addition to decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sequestering carbon, these on-farm projects provide many other benefits including improved air and water quality, increased crop yields and profitability, and public health benefits. The state's programs help reduce the initial risks that can come with implementing innovative new agricultural practices.
We write to ask for your support to increase funding for two of these programs-the Healthy Soils Program and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP). We were disappointed to learn that their 2017-18 funding was cut in the final negotiations of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) budget last year. Unfortunately, in this year's proposal, Governor Brown again proposed insufficient funding for both programs.
We ask that you support the following for the 2018-19 fiscal year:
• Healthy Soils Program: Increase funding to $25 million The Healthy Soils Program provides grants to support innovative farm and ranch practices to reduce GHG emissions and store carbon in agricultural soils, trees and shrubs. We cannot realize the potential on millions of acres of farmland for storing carbon and reducing GHG emissions without improved funding.
• SWEEP: Restore funding with $40 millionAs we face another year of drought, we believe that sufficient funding for this program is critical to ensure on-going improved water conservation on our farms and ranches while also reducing on-farm energy use and GHG emissions. SWEEP was zeroed out in FY 2016-17, in spite of the popularity of the program with farmers around the state.
Farmers and ranchers stand ready to reduce GHG emissions and help avoid the worst impacts of a changing climate. We urge you to advocate for GGRF investments in the 2018-19 budget that will accelerate the unique and powerful opportunities agriculture has to sink carbon and reduce emissions. Thank you for your consideration.