California Policy

MCP and its partners work with regional networks, elected officials and allies at the city, county and state levels to support policies that advance carbon farming practices. In January 2015, half a decade after MCP began working to bring the agriculture into the climate conversation, California Governor Brown made natural and working lands the fifth pillar of the State’s climate strategy. The state also acknowledged the risk that agriculture faces from climate change.

HEALTHY SOILS INITIATIVE

In 2016, two state bills, Senate Bill 1350 introduced by Senator Lois Wolk, and Senate Bill 859, established the Healthy Soils Program administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The Healthy Soils Program was also championed by State Representative Marc Levine.  A competitive grant program funded by the State’s cap and trade revenues was offered in 2017 and allocated $7.5 million for agricultural “management practices that contribute to healthy soils and result in net long-term on-farm greenhouse gas benefits.” The 2017 Healthy Soils Program used the COMPOST-Planner, a CA State modeling tool based on the NRCS COMET tools developed in partnership with MCP.

In 2016 and 2017, MCP partners with jurisdiction outside Marin supported the statewide advancement of compost application through the CA NRCS field trials for compost application on grazed rangelands. Fifteen sites across California biomes were selected, and traditional NRCS practice standard development criteria were paired with replication of the original MCP biogeochemical soil carbon analysis by UC Berkeley Silver Labs. 

MCP partners also work with the Department of Conservation to advance support for climate-friendly practices through the RCDs and other conservation programs.  As of the end of 2017, 33 RCDs across the state have received training from MCP partners on carbon farm planning and are able to offer it to local ranchers and farmers.

COMPOST

MCP supports policies and practices that divert organic waste from landfills, slurry ponds, burning and other high-GHG-emitting practices toward compost creation. MCP worked extensively with Marin County to establish West Marin Compost, a local agricultural compost operation. In addition, MCP co-founder John Wick, alongside a diverse coalition of agricultural and municipal waste stakeholders, supported the following legislation to move organic materials from high-GHG-emitting sources toward compost production (link to SusCon report, link to StateWide Compost Assessment Hass Business School). Assembly Bill 1045, Irwin required all state agencies to coordinate rules and permitting for compost facilities. Assembly Bill 876, McCarty directed counties to document organic waste and create plans for diversion. The first of its kind, Senate Bill 1383, Lara set regulations for high-intensity,
short-lived climate pollutant methane. This bill also created a provision for funding food waste reduction and new compost facilities and established the Alternative Manure Management Program.