Saving California Agriculture Through Innovative Solutions

From by Clare Algozin
Saving California Agriculture Through Innovative Solutions

The California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) is a coalition advancing policies to support agriculture in California and positively affect climate change. CalCAN works to respond to climate change by using agriculture to reduce its carbon footprint and to improve food and farming security.

Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Renata Brillinger, Executive Director of the California Climate and Agriculture Network.

Food Tank (FT): How do you contribute to creating a better food system?

Renata Brillinger (RB): CalCAN seeks systemic change through policy campaigns that will incentivize and provide resources for California farmers and ranchers to transition to practices that have climate and other environmental and health benefits. We support a statewide climate and agriculture program to fund on-farm projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon, we remove barriers to on-farm renewable energy, we support the protection of farmland, we seek funds for water and energy conservation and we call for more research into farming practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help farmers adapt to climate impacts such as drought.

FT: What is a project, program, or result you are most proud of?

RB: We released a report, Growing Solutions: Climate Change and Agriculture Recommendations to the California Governor, early in 2015 that outlines our policy platform for Governor Brown’s administration, detailing a range of actions he could take to support agriculture in facing climate change.

We are also sponsoring a bill that would allocate up to US$65 million of the state’s cap-and-trade funds for permanent easements on farmland and for on-farm demonstration projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or store carbon in soils and woody plants. The bill (SB 367) is part of a package of bills approved by the Senate, and it is now being considered by the Assembly.

FT: What are your goals for 2015 and beyond?

RB: We have two primary goals:

  • To secure substantial financial incentives for farmer to incorporate practices on their farms that have climate and other environmental benefits
  • To build the CalCAN network of engaged advocates and spokespeople on climate and agriculture issues

FT: In one sentence, what is the most important thing eaters and consumers can do today to support a more sustainable food system?

RB: Raise your voice to influence system-wide change—get involved in organic and sustainable agriculture policy campaigns by voting, contacting your elected representatives, donating to campaigns, writing letters to the editor, and so on.

FT: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?

RB: Sign up for our list serve to receive a monthly newsletter on climate and agriculture policy, science and practice. Take action when we send out alerts for calls and letters to policymakers.

Download the 2014 Good Food Org Guide HERE.

Submit your suggestions for the 2015 guide HERE.

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