Yesterday, in Santa Ynez, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) met with federal and state agencies and leaders from the region’s agriculture and food production industries to make progress on on-farm composting. Representatives from Central Coast farm and producer organizations joined a roundtable discussion with representatives from EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
The roundtable focused on enhancing communication with Central Coast growers on healthy soil practices and sharing lessons learned from environmental successes. Participants heard from growers to better understand barriers to implementation of healthy soils practices. The agencies also announced the launch of a new multi-agency workgroup that will address permitting challenges and create incentives to support on-farm composting.
“Meeting with local farmers is an opportunity for EPA to listen, learn, and develop new approaches to environmental challenges,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Jordan. “We are excited to announce the creation of the interagency On-Farm Compost Work Group, which will support California’s farmers, ranchers, and food producers and help bring about more efficient ways to work together as stewards of our natural resources.”
“We are excited to announce the launch of the On-Farm Compost Work Group. This group of 15 federal, state, and regional agencies are committed to supporting California’s agricultural community in their efforts to improve soil health,” said CDFA Secretary Ross. “Healthy soil is key to sequestering atmospheric carbon while improving nutrient management, water management, and agricultural productivity.”
“Healthy soils are the foundation of a productive agricultural system and a key part of our efforts to fight climate change,” said California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld. “California’s EPA looks forward to working with our local and federal colleagues in supporting our state’s farmers and ranchers in adopting carbon farming practices.”
“I am very pleased that we will have stakeholder input from the very beginning,” said NRCS State Conservationist in California Carlos Suarez. “Our farmers and ranchers have always been very conservation-minded and understand very well the value of good land stewardship.”
The On-Farm Compost Work Group, co-led by CDFA, NRCS, California Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. EPA, will include 15 federal, state, and regional agencies. The group will develop a regulatory pathway to address permitting challenges and create incentives for on-farm composting in order to decrease nutrient loading, reduce agricultural burning, and improve soil health.