California's Climate Smart Agriculture Programs

California's Climate Smart Agriculture Programs

Picture of Alli Rowe

Hi again!

In my first blog post I introduced myself and shared some information about climate smart agriculture. Today, I'd like to share more about what is being done in California and how that relates to the implementation of practices on the ground. Specifically, I'd like to introduce three programs: Healthy Soils, State Water Efficiency and Enhancement, and Alternative Manure Management.

To build resiliency in agriculture and reduce the impacts of climate change, the California Department of Food and Agriculture launched Climate Smart Agriculture Programs in 2014, funding them with proceeds from the state's cap-and-trade program. The programs provide unique grant opportunities to farmers and ranchers to adopt management practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage in soils and woody plants, and improve water use efficiency, all while benefiting the agricultural economy and community. 

In my role, I act as a technical assistance provider for these programs in Ventura County. That means I get the word out to farmers and ranchers about the programs, work with folks to develop a project proposal, provide assistance in completing the online application, and support project implementation. If you are a farmer or rancher interested in any of these programs, you can contact me anytime. Serving you is my #1 priority.

The three programs are the following:

Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP)

  • Awards funds to dairy and livestock operations to implement alternative manure management practices that reduce methane emissions.
  • Practices include (but are not limited to): solid separation, composting, solid storage, and conversion from flush to scrape.
  • Maximum grant size $750,000.

State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program (SWEEP)

  • Awards funds to farmers and ranchers to implement irrigation and pump upgrades that save water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Practices include (but are not limited to): installation of variable frequency drive, pump upgrades and retrofits, filter installation, soil moisture sensor installation, or converting water delivery methods.
  • Maximum grant size $100,000.

Healthy Soils Program (HSP)

  • Awards funds to farmers and ranchers to implement practices that build soil health, increase soil carbon, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Practices include (but are not limited to): cover cropping, mulch application, compost application, nutrient management planning, windbreak or hedgerow establishment, prescribed grazing management, reduced or no till.
  • There are two applications available through the Incentives Program or Demonstration Projects.
  • The Incentives Program funds implementation of conservation practices. Maximum grant size is $75,000.
  • The Demonstration Projects showcase implementation of Healthy Soils practices to farmers and ranchers in the community and can have an additional research component. Maximum grant size without a research project is $100,000 and $250,000 with a research project.

To date, these climate smart agriculture programs have funded over 700 projects on farms and ranches in California. Over the course of the lifetime of the project, they will reduce California's GHG emissions by more than 750,000 metric tons of CO2e, the equivalent of removing approximately 200,000 cars from the road for a year. And that's just the beginning!

These programs are fledglings and require more support to develop into effective funding opportunities for farmers and ranchers. With time and resources, climate smart agriculture programs have enormous potential to build resiliency for California farmers and ranchers while reducing GHG emissions, saving water, and storing carbon in our soils. 

There are currently 8 community education specialists working throughout the state as technical assistance providers for these programs. If you are located outside of Ventura County and are interested in applying for a grant or have questions, please contact the UC Extension community education specialist in your region. 

Mencino County: Britta Baskerville –

Glenn County: Dana Brady –

Yolo County: Emily Lovell –

Santa Cruz County: Valerie Perez –

Ventura County: Alli Rowe –

San Diego County: Esther Mosase –

Imperial County: Kristian Salgado –

Kern County: Shulamit Shroder –


Climate smart agriculture encompasses management practices that increase soil carbon sequestration, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve yields and efficiencies, and promotes climate resilience. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) supports three funding opportunities in climate smart agriculture: the Healthy Soils Program, the State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program, and the Alternative Manure Management Program

In a collaborative partnership, CDFA and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources have teamed up to support 10 community education specialists throughout the state to provide technical assistance and outreach for the climate smart agriculture programs. As one of these technical assistance providers, my role is to promote and support the adoption of these programs in Ventura County. If you are interested in working with me, please contact me at

By Alli Rowe
Author - Community Education Specialist