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Sep 14, 2020
Members sought for on-farm water and energy efficiency advisory group

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel (EFA SAP) is accepting applications from stakeholders interested in serving on an ad hoc advisory group to provide input about on-farm water and energy efficiency practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The ad hoc advisory group will review the history and accomplishments of the multi-benefit Statewide Water and Energy Enhancement Program (SWEEP) and prepare recommendations for potential updates and adjustments for any future program, including partnerships and alternative funding sources for incentives to growers. As state funding sources are currently unavailable for SWEEP, it is an opportune time to evaluate the history and performance of the program to share results and successes, and to consider new partnerships to continue this important work.

SWEEP was established in 2014 at the height of the most recent severe drought in California’s history. The program has since provided over 800 awards to farmers and ranchers to improve irrigation systems with the objective of achieving both water savings and greenhouse gas reductions from pumping and on-farm water distribution. Moving into this next decade, farmers are facing an even more complex regulatory environment related to water use, such as the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Furthermore, irrigation technologies are evolving rapidly, creating additional opportunities for farmers and the need for more resources and attention.

The advisory group will consist of stakeholders who have diverse expertise in farming, climate smart agricultural practices, California water regulations, agricultural water use efficiency and technologies. Members will be tasked with providing recommendations to address the following questions about SWEEP:

• The program’s ability to help farmers improve water use efficiency – what’s working well and what might the program seek to improve? How might any future program evolve to help farmers address new resource management challenges?

• How might any future program improve participation by operations that have historically faced barriers in accessing or utilizing the program?

• How might promotion and coordination of a program like SWEEP be improved with irrigation districts, groundwater sustainability agencies, USDA-NRCS and other potential partners?

The Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory panel will approve members of the ad hoc advisory group at its October public meeting. Members are asked to be available to participate in three virtual meetings during the winter of 2020-2021. At each meeting, members will have the opportunity to ask questions of SWEEP program staff and propose and discuss programmatic updates to any future program. The committee’s recommendations will be formalized in a report and shared with the public and then the EFA SAP for consideration.

Individuals interested in serving must send a letter of interest and a resume or curriculum vitae to [email protected] by September 30, 2020 at 5 p.m. (PT). Late submissions will not be accepted.

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