The CDFA has developed a draft request for proposals for its Conservation Agriculture Planning Grants program and is seeking public comment. Though funds have not yet been allocated for the program, CDFA hopes to offer these grants as part of its Climate Smart Agriculture Program. It would be the first time CDFA has offered grants for climate mitigation and adaptation planning.

According to the draft proposal, public and non-profit groups could apply for up to $250,000, which could be used to reimburse farm operations up to $20,000 each for expenses related to drawing up a climate smart plan. Priority (25% of funds) will be designated for plans that help socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Secondary emphasis will be on proposals to assist farms up to 500 acres.

Most proposals will develop plans for existing NRCS conservation programs such as nutrient management, integrated pest management, soil health or energy and irrigation management. A Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition, another existing NRCS option, is also eligible. CDFA is asking for detailed expense proposals for Carbon Farm Plans as those do not have a corresponding NRCS program but would potentially be eligible for the new planning grants.

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While federal programs do include funding for planning, it’s often not enough.

“We have heard from stakeholders that there is generally the need for more planning on farms and ranches when it comes to climate change mitigation and adaption,” CDFA’s Amrith Gunasekara told Agri-Pulse in an email.

The public comment period is open through June 15.

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