For Immediate Release
County of Sonoma awarded up to $10 million by USDA for multi-agency climate project
SANTA ROSA, CA | September 15, 2022
The Natural Resources Conservation Service, within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced its selection of the County of Sonoma for a tentative award through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity. The project, titled Sonoma Marin Ag and County Climate Coalition, represents a large partnership effort across multiple organizations from both Sonoma and Marin counties, with the County of Sonoma acting as the lead entity.
The Sonoma Marin Ag and County Climate Coalition project will focus on successful carbon farming and the forging of regional and local food partnerships across the two Bay Area counties to create a regional supply chain, tracking system and marketing campaign for “climate-smart agricultural products” – agricultural commodities produced using farming, ranching or forestry practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon. Carbon farming is a term used to describe several strategies that maximize long-term carbon sequestration and reduce emissions in agriculture. The project will help achieve the ambitious climate mitigation goals established in formal county climate action planning documents.
The Sonoma Marin Ag and County Climate Coalition project is a regional approach to creating climate-resilient agricultural landscapes through local partnerships and engagement with the agricultural community. This pilot builds upon long-standing partnerships among county governments, Resource Conservation Districts, University Extension Services, climate and agriculture-centered community-based organizations, and USDA to support, monitor and verify the implementation of impactful climate-smart practices. The project also builds upon the partners’ existing online database system to track project implementation, costs and impacts.
"The Carbon Cycle Institute is excited to see our carbon farming framework, co-developed by CCI and North Bay Area Resource Conservation Districts, being leveraged for this project," said Patricia Hickey, managing director of the Carbon Cycle Institute. "We thank the USDA for their commitment to supporting agricultural innovation at the local and regional levels, as well as its recognition of the critical role regional partnerships are playing in accelerating the adoption of agricultural climate solutions."
Over the course of five years, project partners will provide carbon farming support to numerous farms and ranches, which will lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Anchored in historic local conservation partnerships, the adaptive co-management approach of the project is designed to serve as a regional model for coordinated climate-smart agriculture implementation and to be scalable to any region in the state or country.
"This funding is a testament to the strong relationships between agricultural conservation organizations, county government, and the local agricultural community and their long history of innovation," the executive directors of Marin and Sonoma County RCDs said in a joint statement. "This funding will support Marin and Sonoma farmers and ranchers and their role as land and climate stewards."
While the exact grant award amount is unknown for now, it comes with an estimated funding ceiling for this project of $10 million. Should the full $10 million grant award be funded, the project could support up to 100 farms and ranches and reduce hundreds of thousands of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the 20-year lifetime of the project benefits. The final grant award amount will be negotiated between USDA and the project partners in November.
In total, the Biden-Harris Administration, through the USDA, is investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity. See the full list of selected projects here.