SACRAMENTO, California, May 4, 2019 (ENS) – The California Department of Food and Agriculture, CDFA, and the California Air Resources Board, CARB, have formed a public-private initiative to advance climate-smart agriculture and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on agricultural lands.

The two state agencies say they will create a mechanism for businesses in the food and fiber supply chain to directly fund climate projects on California farms and ranches.

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California organic vegetables at a farmer’s market in La Jolla, California, Nov. 15, 2015 (Photo by Suzie’s Farm)

Agricultural lands play a pivotal role in fighting climate change. This collaboration will enable private dollars to support state priorities and practices that the state uses in its climate-smart agriculture programs.

“Farmers and ranchers have long been at the forefront of the battle against climate change,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “This partnership is an opportunity for eaters and buyers to share in land-based solutions. Also, I am proud to be deepening the collaboration between CARB and CDFA, demonstrating how natural and working landscapes bring climate change solutions to the Earth.”

Carbon farming takes in a variety of agricultural methods aimed at sequestering the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the soil. Increasing the carbon content of soil can aid plant growth, increase soil organic matter, improve soil water retention capacity, and reduce fertilizer use.

Carbon farming can cover small changes in land management, like introducing no-till cropping, stubble retention, agroforestry, or methane-reducing feed supplements.

At the large end of the scale, it can mean an integrated plan for the whole farm to reduce emissions and maximize carbon capture.

Rooted in the climate and agricultural expertise of the two agencies, the collaboration will bring together food and fiber producers, consumers, and businesses to fund on-farm carbon reductions.

CARB and CDFA intend to convene an expert working group to design an approach that will attract private investment dollars to climate-smart agricultural projects.

Former U.S. EPA regional director Jared Blumenfeld, who now heads the California Environmental Protection Agency, home to CARB, expressed his enthusiasm for this new approach.

“It is incredibly exciting to see California continue to demonstrate its climate policy leadership through this program that will simultaneously address climate change and support iconic landscapes that feed the nation,” Blumenfeld said.

In developing their partnership, CARB and CDFA will work with an established California non-profit, the Perennial Farming Initiative and its Zero Foodprint Program, to launch Restore California Renewable Restaurants.

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In the kitchen at State Bird Provisions, a Zero Footprint Restaurant, San Francisco, California, (Photo courtesy State Bird Provisions)

Through this voluntary initiative, diners can choose zero carbon restaurants that are funding real on-farm emissions reductions.

“We’re excited to be working with CARB and CDFA on a program that will engage chefs, producers, and diners across the state in a transition to a renewable economy that is not only resilient and renewable, but also delicious, healthy, and prosperous,” said Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint of The Perennial Farming Initiative.

Zero Foodprint restaurants are creating a renewable food system by voluntarily funding climate-friendly farming practices. This engages restaurants at all levels by directly increasing soil health and the supply of great ingredients. New research also shows that these changes could reverse climate change.

Sixty to 70 percent of a restaurant’s footprint typically comes from the food itself. Zero Foodprint advises restaurants on how to think about minimizing food emissions through tools such as vendor selection, menu design and portion control.

“This initiative creates exciting new opportunities for Californians to participate in the state’s battle against climate change,” said CARB Chair Mary Nichols. “Restore California gives every Californian who cares about climate the opportunity to put their hard-earned money where their mouth is.”

By 2030, Restore California restaurants can deliver millions of tons of carbon reductions on California farms and ranches.

CARB’s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. CARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health-based air quality standards.

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