November 24, 2020

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CFAP 'hurts' farm donations to food banks
Food banks are “staring down the barrel of a food cliff in December,” according to Natalie Caples, who leads the Central California Food Bank and testified at a recent state Senate committee hearing on food assistance.
To stem this tide, Caples is looking to rebuild agricultural relationships disrupted by the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
“We initially saw a surge in donated fresh produce from farmers and our agricultural partners, as they saw food service contracts being cancelled,” she explained. “But unfortunately, that was pretty short lived.”
By June, those farmers had turned instead to federal relief and other markets. Yet food banks have faced continued pressure on the supply chain. Federal support for food programs, meanwhile, will end Dec. 31.
“For our food bank, that means roughly a loss of over 1.6 million pounds of food — or 78,000 food boxes — lost because of this program sunsetting,” Caples said.
CDFA seeks comments on Farm to School program
CDFA plans to start accepting grant proposals soon for its new Farm to School Incubator Program. The department released the first details on the program Monday and is looking for public feedback.
The program aims to better connect local farmers to schools, while adding educational opportunities for healthy eating and sustainable food production.
With a $10 million budget, the Farm to School Program is one of only a handful this year to survive spending cuts due to the pandemic-induced recession.
Carbon markets lure farmers, but will benefits be enough to hook them?
A nationwide cap-and-trade program has not been on the legislative horizon since the idea died in Congress in 2010. But government and private market developers are counting on there being a robust demand for carbon offsets from a host of corporations. This includes energy companies, airlines and even major food companies, that need to offset their emissions.
This is the third part of our series, “Agriculture’s sustainable future: Feeding more while using less.” The second article focused on the ongoing challenge of measuring the cost and benefits including the impact of farming practices that protect the environment.
Read our full report at

The National Turkey Federation showed off Corn and Cob, who will be at the White House today for the annual presidential pardon. 

Biden naming special climate advisers
President-elect Joe Biden will be introducing former Secretary of State John Kerry today as his special envoy on climate policy. “This role is the first of its kind: the first cabinet-level climate position, and the first time climate change has had a seat at the table on the National Security Council,” Biden said.
According to reports, Biden also will be naming a "high-level White House climate policy coordinator” in coming days. This comes as advisers are urging the administration to set up a carbon bank at USDA to pay farmers for practices and projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s not clear how Kerry and the climate czar will coordinate. But energy lobbyist Scott Segal says of Kerry: “Those interested in a sensible climate policy should welcome a figure with political experience and substantive expertise.
By the way: The transition process can now begin after signoff from President Donald Trump. In a series of Tweets Monday evening, Trump said he was directing the General Services Administration to “do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols.” Before the announcement, House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson said in a letter Monday the transition delay “may directly impact food costs and consumers’ options on grocery store shelves.”
County officials plead for direct COVID relief
County leaders are pleading with Congress to provide new funding to lighten the load of fighting the coronavirus on local budgets. Their plea comes as negotiations have stalled on Capitol Hill.
Marc Molinaro, an executive of Dutchess County, New York, on Monday recalled for reporters the story of losing his father to COVID-19 earlier this year and said local governments will need a boost as the virus persists, including as local infrastructure is called upon for vaccine distribution.
“As a Republican … I speak to my friends in the United States Senate particularly, but federal leaders of both parties. We need them to summon the political courage and the will to provide the state and local assistance that we so desperately need,” he said.
He said it:
“One must ask why California taxpayers should pay more than half the cost, a $250 million chunk of state water bonds.” — CalMatters Columnist Dan Walters, on who pays for the Klamath Dam removal process.

Ben Nuelle, Spencer Chase, Bill Tomson and Steve Davies contributed to this report.

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