Lawmakers have landed on an agreement for a new climate bond proposal to place before voters on the November ballot. The $10 billion measure would allocate nearly $4 billion to various water issues and $300 million to programs promoting sustainability practices and helping farmers and ranchers build climate resilience.

With time running short and negotiations still pending, lawmakers waived a statutory deadline of June 27 for putting bond measures in print. They instead pivoted to a July 3 deadline for incorporating bond details into an information guide sent to voters, along with a constitutional requirement to have bills in print 72 hours ahead of votes.

Along with the many goals outlined in its title, the Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparedness, and Clean Air Bond Act of 2024 would also create jobs and build economic opportunities, according to Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, a co-author on the legislation.

“Our historically underserved communities on the front lines of the climate crisis could not afford to wait any longer, requiring us to move with urgency to strengthen California climate resiliency,” said Garcia. “Our climate bond agreement takes action with an equity-focused investment plan to protect Californians suffering the real-time devastating and often deadly consequences of climate change.”

Eduardo Garcia presents a billAsm. Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella

Asm. Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, the other co-author, played a leading role with incorporating provisions on sustainable agriculture within the bond proposal, as outlined under Senate Bill 867.

Last year Wilson pushed for a $3.4 billion bond to support what she described as four pillars of the food system: climate-smart agriculture, farmworker well-being, healthy food access and regional food infrastructure. Her bill competed with three other climate bonds before it stalled in committee, as Governor Gavin Newsom pressured lawmakers to narrow their focus to a single mental health bond for the March primary ballot.

Ushering forward the new bond proposal, Wilson promised it would address “the unique issues facing communities that have been historically overlooked, ensuring geographical equity.” She thanked Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike McGuire for their commitment to the effort. While Assembly Agriculture chair, Rivas made a similar attempt at a bond, with a measure to shore up incentive grants for sustainable farming practices and to address climate issues.

                   It's easy to be "in the know" about agriculture news from coast to coast! Sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news. Simply click here.

The new bond proposal also reflects a lobbying push from the Association of California Water Agencies, which advocated for an $8 billion bond dedicated to water infrastructure. SB 867 represents a considerable compromise.

After the state budget cut $500 million previously allocated to water storage projects, the bond would take up a small portion of the slack with a $75 million investment for storage and the same amount for repairing and improving conveyance canals. Yet it would dedicate $200 million to a program for repurposing farmland fallowed under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Another $386 million would help local districts implement new water conservation measures through water recycling and reuse projects, while $62 million would support desalination facilities.

A separate part of the bond dedicated to agriculture would restore $40 million in funding for improving efficiency in water and energy use with irrigation equipment, a program known as SWEEP. A last-minute budget deal between the administration and legislative leaders preserved another $20 million for the grants.

Within that $300 million package, the lawmakers hope to incentivize carbon sequestration and soil health practices through $65 million in funding and to expand conservation easements with $15 million. The Invasive Species Council of California would have $20 million to spend on projects and activities, with an emphasis on restoring biodiversity and ecosystem health.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture would gain $90 million from the bond, split among programs to support farmers markets, urban agriculture, equipment sharing and tribal producers. Similarly, the California Department of Conservation would have $30 million to address land access for socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers.

Many of those spending requests emanated from the California Climate and Agriculture Network.

Provisions elsewhere in the measure focus on agricultural experiment stations ($15 million), energy efficiency upgrades in farmworker housing ($10 million) and charging infrastructure for farmworker vanpools as they transition to zero-emission vehicles ($15 million). Clean energy projects overall would receive $850 million.

Nearly two years of backroom negotiations were behind the final proposal, leaving on the cutting room floor many requests from a broad range of stakeholders. One of those faced opposition from the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA).

According to the trade group, Senator Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park, led a delegation in an aggressive push to include $50 million for constructing a facility to develop alternative protein products at the University of California, Davis. 

CCA lobbied against the provision, arguing the proponents falsely described the environmental impacts of beef production and overlooked the benefits, while boosting unsubstantiated claims about alternative protein. CCA reasoned the funding would primarily benefit venture capitalists in that space.

The Legislature plans to cast the final votes on the proposal on Wednesday.

For more news, go to