California Wants To Help Farmers Transition To Growing Plant-Based Crops With The Introduction Of The Smart Climate Agriculture Program

On Friday, Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), along with cosponsors Social Compassion in Legislation and The Good Food Institute, introduced AB 1289, The Smart Climate Agriculture Program. Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) co-authored the bill which was created to support California farmers who want to transition from animal agriculture to plant-based agriculture.

Helping local farmers transition will solidify California’s position as a leader in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, creating jobs in a burgeoning industry, providing wholesome, sustainable food for its growing population, and helping to keep family farms in business.

“By providing our local farms with the tools and resources to transition to plant-based agriculture, farmers can play a greater role in combating climate change through sustainable practices, while helping the state become a leader in supplying and processing plant-based foods and products for our ever-growing population,” Assemblymember Kalra said in a statement sent to WAN. “I am proud to support family farms and author a historic piece of legislation to exemplify and further California’s values.”

Existing law already requires the Department of Food and Agriculture to oversee an environmental farming program to provide incentives to farmers whose practices promote the well-being of ecosystems, air quality, and wildlife and their habitat. AB 1289 would establish the Smart Climate Agriculture Program, which would provide grants to small and mid-sized farmers to transition their lands from animal to plant-based agriculture. The bill would also provide technical assistance to those farmers, as well as develop best practices for transitioning the land. 

“AB 1289 gives a path to farmers looking for a way out from being under the control of other entities that often leaves them in debt and with no way out. This bill is voluntary, and it helps the farmers who want options,” stated Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation. “Not only does it help them, but it benefits all of society by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, providing more sustainable long term food sources, and making us less dependent on foreign sources for ingredients for the growing plant-based food industry.”

Small to mid-sized family farms that transition from livestock, dairy, or crop feed farming to plant-based agriculture will create job opportunities as market demand for plant-based products continues to grow. By keeping these farms in operation and diversifying the state’s working lands, the intention of this bill is to increase agricultural revenue and help California become a leader in supplying and processing plant-based foods and products. AB 1289 will also help the state adopt additional practices that will protect and preserve the environment and natural resources, especially as the population continues to grow. 

Sales of plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy products are predicted to soar in 2021—powered by investments in production and technology from private and public entities that view alternative protein as a safe, sustainable bet. 

“Consumer demand for plant-based foods is skyrocketing,” noted Jessica Almy, Director of Policy at The Good Food Institute which has reported that plant-based food in the U.S. reached $5 billion in 2019, up 11% from 2018, and having grown five times faster than total food sales. “AB 1289 supports farmers who want to meet this demand and put themselves at the center of an emerging, sustainable industry.”

California has already taken significant steps toward establishing policies and programs to preserve and protect the environment, combat climate change, and create sustainable jobs, and AB 1289 exemplifies all these Californian values.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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