$5m grant helps citrus farmers nourish healthy soils

A new collaborative effort will provide financial support for healthy-soils conservation management practices for citrus farmers in 11 California counties.

Beginning March 25, citrus growers will be able to enroll in a program that awards up to $200,000 for farm projects to help foster climate resilience and long-term sustainability for California’s citrus sector.

The effort was made possible after the California Department of Food and Agriculture awarded $5 million from the Healthy Soils Program Block Grant to the California Bountiful Foundation, the California Citrus Quality Council and Xerces Society. The California Bountiful Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit science, research and education arm of the California Farm Bureau, is administering all aspects of the program grant.

Key program activities include webinars, one-on-one technical assistance, translation services and direct financial incentives to support the adoption of healthy-soils management practices such as cover cropping, conservation cover, reduced tillage, whole orchard recycling, nutrient management and pollinator-friendly hedgerow plants. The program is set to support 20 to 45 projects over three years.

“Our goal at the California Bountiful Foundation is to make it very easy for citrus growers to enter into the program and implement healthy soils management practices,” said Dr. Amrith Gunasekara, director of the California Bountiful Foundation. “We see ourselves as a one-stop shop where citrus growers will get a very high degree of service through this program.”

A key aspect of the program is its commitment to social equity, with a focus on aiding socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, women, military veterans and small-scale farms. Citrus growers in Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Tulare, San Diego, Placer and Ventura counties are encouraged to enroll.

“In supporting our growers with conservation expertise and financial support, we are setting the stage for sustaining agriculture and building a resilient citrus industry for well into the future,” said California Farm Bureau President Shannon Douglass.

For details on how to apply for funding and to register for a March 26 webinar on the program, visit californiabountifulfoundation.com and click on the Healthy Soils Program link. For additional information, contact Margaret Honig at [email protected] or (916)-561-5504.

The California Farm Bureau works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 26,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of 5.8 million Farm Bureau members.

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