CDFA Pilots Block Grant Program for State Water Efficiency and Enhancement
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is pleased to announce a competitive funding opportunity for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Block Grant Pilot. The SWEEP Block Grant Pilot is a part of the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, which was first developed in 2014 in response to severe drought. SWEEP provides financial incentives for California agricultural operations to invest in irrigation systems that save water and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Through this Block Grant Pilot solicitation, which will provide funding to organizations to further disburse to agricultural operations, CDFA aims to support regional capacity building and provide opportunities for regional strategic use of SWEEP funding to address local concerns regarding water conservation and water efficiency.
How much funding is available through this block grant program?
Up to $40 million will be made available for the SWEEP Block Grant Pilot Program with awards ranging from $2 million to $5 million. Fifteen percent of the awarded funds may be used for direct and indirect costs related to administration of the grant including disbursement of funds to Grant Beneficiaries. An additional 5% of the award may be used for technical assistance activities as defined by AB 2377 (2018). The remainder of the grant funds (at least 80%) must only be used for implementation of on-farm SWEEP projects. The maximum funding that can be made available to a Grant Beneficiary is $200,000.
CDFA reserves the right to offer an award different than the amount requested. CDFA will consider equitable regional distribution of funds along with evaluation criteria while selecting projects for award. All payments will be made to the Block Grant Recipients. Block Grant Recipients will be responsible for further disbursement of funds within the allowed grant term of three years.
What entities are eligible to apply?
The following entities are eligible to be BGRs of SWEEP Block Grant funding through this pilot solicitation:
- Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs)
- University of California (UC), California Community Colleges, or California State Universities (CSU)
- Federally- and California-Recognized Native American Indian Tribes
- Local or regional government agencies such as air pollution control districts.
- State agricultural marketing programs, and federal marketing programs that represent California commodities
- Non-profits including, but not limited to Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, Irrigation districts, Land trusts, and Non-profit industry organizations
- Eligible entities must be located in California with a physical California business address.
Applicant organizations are required to provide or facilitate technical assistance to grant beneficiaries as required by AB 2377. AB 2377 defines technical assistance organizations as RCDs, University of California Cooperative Extension and non-profit organizations. If the block grant applicant organization is not one of the entities defined as a technical assistance provider in AB 2377, then they must partner with one such organization to provide the technical assistance elements of the block grant project.
Partnerships among organizations are strongly encouraged to leverage expertise and ability to conduct outreach to the farming community. Together applicants and their partners must demonstrate experience and expertise in irrigation system design and water management practices, grant administration and outreach. Partner organizations must be California-based.
CDFA encourages applications from organizations who serve farms under 500 acres and socially disadvantaged California food producers and farmworkers.
Who are the intended grant beneficiaries?
All on-farm projects must reduce on-farm water use and reduce GHG emissions. The following types of agricultural operations may be selected by BGRs for an on-farm project as Grant Beneficiaries:
- California farmers, ranchers, Federally- and California-Recognized Native American Indian Tribes, and non-profit organizations engaged in agricultural production.
- For the purposes of this program, an agricultural operation is defined as row, vineyard, field and tree crops, commercial nursery, nursery stock production, or greenhouse operation producing food crops or flowers as defined in Food and Agricultural Code section 77911.
- Individuals or business entities receiving grant award funds must be located in California with a physical California business address. The project boundaries must be within the state of California.
- Grant Beneficiary representatives must be at least 18 years old.
On-Farm Project Site Restrictions
- University and research farms are not eligible for funding.
- Awards are limited to one per agricultural operation using their unique Federal Tax Identification Number.
- An agricultural operation or individual cannot receive a total cumulative SWEEP award amount of more than $600,000 (since the SWEEP program was initiated in 2014).
- Medicinal and recreational cannabis operations are not eligible.
Technical Assistance Providers (TAPs)
The following entities with demonstrated technical expertise in designing and implementing agricultural management practices are eligible per AB 2377 (See Technical Assistance):
- Resource Conservation Districts
- University of California Cooperative Extension
- Nonprofit organizations
What is the timeline for SWEEP Block Grants?
Grant applications are due June 19, 2023. Administrative and technical review of the submitted applications will take place June through July, with award announcements anticipated in July 2023. Awardees must attend a training workshop in in August, and the grant agreement execution stage is estimated to take several months.
The full Request for Applications can be found here.
For more information on this program or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 530-893-4764.