The California Farm Bureau and its partners have received $5 million from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to implement climate-smart farming practices in citrus groves in 11 counties. The project, part of CDFA’s Healthy Soils Block Grant Pilot Program, will focus on hedgerow planting, carbon sequestration and soil management practices. All of those practices create a safe pollinator habitat in citrus groves.
Over three years, 20 to 45 citrus grove projects will be funded in Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Tulare, San Diego, Placer and Ventura counties. The citrus sector in these counties generates around $2 billion per year.
“This grant will help citrus growers offset costs associated with their efforts to increase pollinator habitat and learn more about how to protect pollinators while still controlling harmful insects and plant diseases,” said James Cranney, president of the California Citrus Quality Council (CCQC), the lead organization on the grant. “The data collected from these projects will help the industry to tell its story about their contribution to pollinator protection and climate change.”
The grant was awarded to a partnership between CCQC, California Farm Bureau and the Xerces Society. CCQC will recruit citrus growers to join the program and create pilot projects that will help other growers determine the feasibility of developing climate-smart production practices. California Farm Bureau will provide all administrative support and technical assistance on healthy soil management practices through its science and research nonprofit, the California Bountiful Foundation. The Xerces Society will provide technical assistance on pollinator-related aspects of the project, including native plants, hedgerow planting and identifying optimal locations for these features that balance pollinator health with crop productivity.
“It was important to bring the right organizations into this grant application,” California Farm Bureau Administrator Jim Houston said. “As the largest farmer organization in the state, we have the resources and know-how to implement such projects since we are designed to serve the farming community.”
“These partnerships are critical to building trust and making progress on so many different fronts,” said Xerces Society Pollinator and Agricultural Biodiversity Co-Director Eric Lee-Mäder.
More than 80% of the awards will fund the cost of on-farm healthy soil management practices in citrus groves. As required by the funding agency, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers — as defined by the 2017 Farmer Equity Act — will receive at least 25% of the funds.
Source: California Farm Bureau
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