Partner Spotlight: California Department of Food and Agriculture

NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez, Executive Director of CARCD Karen Buhr, and Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross, with high-school speak-off competition finalist

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been an essential partner and supporter of the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) and Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs). CDFA is a key funder and regulator for many conservation-in-agriculture programs. Since 1919, the CDFA has been overseeing food safety, protecting agriculture from invasive species, and promoting the agricultural industry for the state.

The CDFA and RCDs are natural partners when working to support California producers. The CDFA can approach conservation goals from a statewide perspective through the CARCD network, and RCDs are able to connect with communities and provide technical assistance on a local level.

One example of this strength is the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP). SWEEP provides rebates to farmers to help them implement irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and save water on California agricultural operations. RCDs partner with CDFA on programs like SWEEP to educate farmers about the SWEEP funding opportunity, create a water conservation plan, provide verification, and provide irrigation evaluations pre- and/or post implementation.

The CARCD team is grateful for the continued support of CDFA’s Secretary, Karen Ross, who said about SWEEP, “Our partnership with RCDs is so important to this program, and the work we’re doing is critical as we all come together to adapt to the realities of climate change. Thank you, RCDs and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts for collaborating with us.”

Along with SWEEP, CDFA has a suite of programs funding climate smart agriculture. Their Healthy Soils Program and Alternative Manure Management Program help California agricultural producers reduce emissions, sequester carbon, and be a part of the solution to climate change.

CDFA is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. Happy centennial!