California Healthy Soils Initiative – Grant Applications Now Open

By: Marianna Zavala and Mel Preston

We are grateful for the farmers and ranchers throughout California that continue to support their local communities during a time of great difficulty. If you are a farmer and rancher currently utilizing soil building practices on your property or are planning to do so, we encourage you to apply for assistance in implementing these projects through the California Healthy Soils Program. The Healthy Soils Grant Program applications are currently being accepted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. This is a phenomenal opportunity to apply and receive support for the implementation of regenerative practices that help build soil health and resiliency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and sequester carbon in soils on farms and ranches. Technical assistance is also available through organizations in multiple regions to assist with applying and implementing these practices. Continue reading for an overview of the program and links to resources for those who want to apply.

What is the Healthy Soils Program?

The Healthy Soils Program is part of a wider California Healthy Soils Initiative, which works with multiple state agencies and departments to support farmers and ranchers to implement soil-building practices on their land. The Healthy Soils Program is broken down into two areas, the first of which is currently accepting applications:

How Can I Apply?

Applications for the Incentives Program are being accepted on a rolling basis, until 5 pm June 26, 2020, or until the $25 million in funding runs out. Head to the following HSP Incentives Program page to apply.

*April 24th, 2020 update: 335 Incentive Program applications have been submitted requesting $23.6 M of the $25 M available. 12 projects have already been awarded requesting $983,635

How is it Funded?

This year the CDFA has up to $25 million in funds available for the Healthy Soils Program. The Healthy Soils Incentives Program, in particular, can provide grants of up to $100,000 for individual farms or ranches. These funds are provided through California Climate Investments, as well as the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for all Act of 2018.

* Note that up to 25% of these funds will be dedicated to supporting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, based off of the Farmer Equity Act of 2017.

What Practices Does the Program Support?

Funding is available for farmers and ranchers to implement 25+ HSP practices, including (but not limited to) compost application, cover cropping, prescribed grazing, mulch, reduced or no-tillage, hedgerows, and riparian plantings.

Who Can Help?

A vital aspect of the Healthy Soils Initiative in California, free technical assistance is available for farmers and ranchers who want to do everything from learning more about the program to navigating paperwork and implementing projects. Our on-site partner, Point Blue Conservation Science, is one of these technical assistance providers and is working statewide to educate and support farmers and ranchers through their Rangeland Monitoring Network. For those in San Mateo County, the San Mateo Resource Conservation District will also be providing technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who want to apply.  For a full list of technical assistance providers in the state, head here.

Additional Resources

At TomKat Ranch, we have utilized many of these healthy soils practices and have seen how they benefit our soils, plant diversity, animal habitat, nutrient cycling, livestock health, and more. We encourage farmers and ranchers to take advantage of the opportunity to apply for a grant and use the myriad of resources available to both implement this important work and continue supporting their local communities.