California Small and Underserved Producers (CUSP) Drought Funding

Direct-to-Producer Opportunity through CARCD


With the ongoing drought crisis in California, farmers face increased costs ranging from higher water and energy bills, to installing new well equipment. This is especially difficult for smaller farms, and farmers from BIPOC, immigrant, and disadvantaged communities. These farmers often fall through the cracks of traditional government aid so CARCD is stepping in to offer direct financial support to  farmers who have faced increased costs due to drought. Grant amounts will be $1,000 min and $20,000 max.


  • Farmers must make at least $10,000 and no more than $400,000 in gross farm sales
  • Agriculture must be the primary source of income for you and your family
  • 50% of funds will be awarded to socially disadvantaged farmers, immigrant farmers, and undocumented farmers. Socially disadvantaged farmer means a farmer who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group, these groups include all of the following: (1) African Americans (2) Native American Indians (3) Alaskan Natives (4) Hispanics (5) Asian Americans (6) Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. 
  • Producers may only receive CUSP funding every 12 months. CARCD will cross-check applicants with CDFA to ensure no repeat funds are awarded inside of that time period.

What’s Covered

  • Production / planting expenses
  • Water cost increases, including water delivery
  • Electricity cost increases
  • Emergency upgrades to irrigation systems
  • Well equipment installation & emergency upgrades

What’s Not Covered

  • Drilling a new well
  • Upgrading to a larger pump that will draw more water

How to Apply

Please fill out an application with the links below, available in 6 languages. 

Please reach out to your local RCD if you require assistance. Your RCD can be found using CARCD’s Find Your Local RCD page.


  • Awards will be issued on a monthly basis starting November 2022.
  • Applicants can expect to receive the award notice within the first two weeks of the 1st month following their application and the award check by the first week of the 2nd month following their application. 
  • The final date to apply in this round of applications is January 15, 2023.

FAQ’s :

Can producer’s use funds for new purchases (i.e. new equipment or upgrades?)

No, funds are only available to reimburse losses due to drought, new purchases are not covered.

A producer is now in a different location than last year, can they be eligible for utility cost increases based on a new location?

An increase in electricity from the previous year attributed to drought can only be covered for the same location /  conditions. If a farmer has moved to a new location, they won’t be eligible to apply for CUSP drought relief funding for an increase in electricity costs as it would be impossible to compare across parcels, the pump might be a different size or depth which would be impossible to compare.

A producer does not have an online account with the utility company 

Utility companies  can provide a summary  of costs from previous years  for the same account and parcel over the phone if the farmer can provide an account number. PG&E gives a monthly summary and comparison of last years costs on every  monthly statement as well, so farmers can compare it without the need of an account.

What if a producer does not have a contract to their name with the utility company?

If the producer’s name is not on the electricity bill but they have a lease agreement, this document will suffice to prove an increase in electricity from the previous year / term. If the farmer can procure the lease agreement with the landlord, and copies of the electric bills in the landlord’s name, they can determine the percentage or portion of the bill the farmer is responsible for covering (i.e. this year’s vs. last)

Can farmers outside California apply?

This fund is specifically designed for farms in California only.

Are renters allowed to apply for funding?

Yes. Small farmers regardless of whether they rent or own their land are eligible for funding.

Is there an acreage limit for small farmers?

No. Small farmers are defined by their gross income from farming, not the geographic size of 

their farm.

Are undocumented farmers eligible?

Yes! Undocumented farmers are encouraged to apply, given their ineligiblity for federal funds.

Are cannabis farmers eligible for funds?

Unfortunately, no. Cannabis farmers are not currently eligible to receive funds.

Does the $10k-400k requirement apply for first year farmers?

If you are a new farmer, or have another limitation, and cannot claim an income between $10K-400K from your farming operations, please describe your particular situation in the long form answer section of questions 22 of the application, in order to be considered for the grant award.

Will I get a copy of my application?

You should receive a copy from <> when you apply.  Please check your spam or promotions folder because it may have landed there. If you did not receive a copy, please contact Emily at