Supervisors Approve Climate Smart Farming Pilot Program

Photo Credit: Spade & Plow

Last Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved an innovative program to fund climate-smart farming practices. Please thank the Supervisors [see email form below] for authorizing this unique and timely program to increase our region’s climate resilience while also supporting local farms and ranches.

What’s Happening

In January 2019, the Board of Supervisors approved $220,000 to fund the Agricultural Resilience Incentive (ARI) grant program. On Tuesday, the County Planning Department received the approval of Supervisors for the program’s guidelines and to issue a call for ARI grant applications.

The ARI program offers our farmers and ranchers voluntary financial incentives to support their healthy stewardship of farm and ranch lands. The 27 pre-approved agricultural resource management practices – rigorously studied by state and federal researchers – promote soil carbon sequestration and conservation practices. 

Implementation of the program is another step in carrying out priority actions identified in the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan adopted by the Supervisors in January 2017. 

Why It Matters

The ARI program reaffirms the County’s commitment to supporting our agricultural community and leading-edge climate action. Farms and ranches in Santa Clara County are critical to combating climate change. Yet, their survival is threatened by the host of challenges they face, some of which we outlined in a recent article on our County’s small farms.

This innovative program is a small but important step to help our local farms finance their climate-smart farming practices and could serve as a model to other jurisdictions in the Bay Area, across California, and beyond.

The public benefits too from this cost-effective program because it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, deter sprawl development, improve agricultural resilience, and increase local food production.

What’s Next 

The County will begin outreach to the agricultural community soon and anticipates awarding projects by the end of summer in order for projects to begin in the fall and winter. Board President Cindy Chavez asked that at the end of the pilot program the Planning Department report back to the Board with the amount of carbon sequestration achieved, the effectiveness of the program, and staff recommendations for next steps. 

Please join me in thanking the Board of Supervisors for approving this important pilot program to incentivize climate smart practices.

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