The California Department of Food and Agriculture is Accepting Applications for the Healthy Soils Program

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting applications for the Healthy Soils Program (HSP). HSP has two components: the HSP Incentives Program (applications accepted on a rolling basis until June 26, 2020) and HSP Demonstration Projects (applications due April 23, 2020). A total of $28 million is available to fund the HSP with funding levels up to $100,000 for the Incentives Program and funding levels ranging from $100,000 to $250,000 for Demonstration Projects. The requirements, funding levels, and application deadlines for the programs are detailed below.

HSP INCENTIVES PROGRAM

What is the HSP Incentives Program? The HSP Incentives Program provides financial incentives to California growers and ranchers to implement conservation management practices that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs), and improve soil health. GHGs benefits are estimated using quantification methodology and tools developed by California Air Resources Board (CARB), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and CDFA and soil health improvement will be assessed by measuring soil organic matter content.

Who is eligible for this program? California farmers and ranchers, as well as federal and California-recognized Native American Tribes are eligible to apply.

What are the requirements for this program? The requirements for this program include:

  • Projects must be located on a California agricultural operation.
  • Awards are limited to one per agricultural operation using a unique tax identification number per round of funding.
  • All projects must implement at least one of the eligible agricultural management practices on fields where said practice was not implemented previously.
  • Projects must result in net GHG benefits (i.e., net positive GHG reductions) from specific eligible agricultural management practices.
  • Applicants must provide past three years’ baseline data on cropping and management histories directly related to fields identified by APNs where eligible agricultural management practices are proposed for implementation to be eligible for funding.
  • Applicants must lease, own or otherwise control the fields and APNs where project activities are proposed to occur for the entirety of the project duration.

Which specific soil management practices are eligible for funding? Eligible practices are categorized based on agricultural systems where they can be implemented and are divided into the following three categories: cropland, orchard or vineyard, and grazing land. Eligible practices include but are not limited to: cover cropping, no-till, reduced-till, mulching, compost application, and conservation plantings. The eligible management practices are detailed in the Request for Grant Applications.

What is the project duration? The first project year begins with the grantee’s agreed date of execution and is to end by June 30, 2021; project implementation is required to begin no later than December 31, 2020 for the first project year. The second project year is from July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2022. The final (third) project year runs from July 1, 2022 - March 31, 2023.

What is the funding level and cost-sharing requirement? The HSP Incentives maximum grant award is $100,000. Cost sharing (matching funds or in-kind contributions) is not required but encouraged.

What is the deadline for the HSP Incentives Program? The HSP Incentives Program will accept applications on a rolling basis until 5 p.m. PT on June 26, 2020 or until available funds are expended, whichever is earlier.

HSP Incentive Program’s full Request for Grant Applications can be found here.

HSP DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS

What are the HSP Demonstration Projects?

The HSP Demonstration Projects showcase California farmers’ and ranchers’ implementation of HSP soil health practices. Demonstration projects enable awardees to help support widespread adoption of soil health management practices throughout the state. 

  • Type A projects will demonstrate implementation of conservation management practices, measure field GHGs emissions, and conduct analysis on cost/benefits for adoption of the proposed practice(s) and anticipated barriers.
  • Type B projects will demonstrate implementation of HSP conservation management practices and/or conduct analysis on cost/benefits for adoption of the proposed practice(s) and anticipated barriers.

Who is eligible for this program? Not-for-profits, University Cooperative Extension, federal and university experiment stations, Resource Conservation Districts, federal and California-recognized Native American Indian Tribes, and farmers and ranchers in collaboration with these entities are eligible to apply.

What are the requirements for this program? The requirements for this program include:

  • A project must include at least one farm (private agricultural operation, university/government owned farm or city community garden) to fulfill demonstration requirements.
  • CDFA will award a maximum of two applications submitted by the same applicant, but each application should be for a unique project.
  • There is no limit to the number of applications which a single organization can be a collaborator.
  • More than one farm may be included in a single application; however, the same farms cannot be listed on multiple applications.
  • Applicants must lease, own or otherwise control the fields and Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) where project activities are proposed to occur for the entirety of the project duration.

Which specific soil management practices are eligible for funding? Eligible practices are categorized based on agricultural systems where they can be implemented and are divided into the following three categories: cropland, orchard or vineyard, and grazing land. Eligible practices include but are not limited to: cover cropping, no-till, reduced-till, mulching, compost application, and conservation plantings. The eligible management practices are detailed in the Request for Grant Applications.

What is the project duration? The maximum grant duration is two years and seven months; grant funds cannot be expended before September 1, 2020, or after March 31, 2023.

What is the funding level and cost-sharing requirement? Demonstration Projects grant amounts cannot exceed $250,000 for Type A projects and $100,000 for Type B projects. Cost sharing (matching funds or in-kind contributions) is not required but may receive additional consideration.

What is the deadline for HSP Demonstration Projects? The HSP Demonstration Projects applications are due by 5 p.m. PT on Thursday, April 23, 2020.

HSP Demonstration Project’s full Request for Grant Applications can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at grants@morrisonco.net or call us at 530-893-4764.

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