In an effort to further combat climate change and habitat loss, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on October 7, 2020, directing state agencies to accelerate actions to battle climate change, protect biodiversity and build resilience through nature-based solutions. The order establishes a state goal of conserving at least 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030 to address the biodiversity and climate crisis.
How the 30x30 Executive Order Affects Agriculture
The order elevates the role of natural and working lands (in other words, agriculture) as a key pillar of California’s climate change strategy.
It commits the state to:
- immediate actions to increase carbon removal;
- enhance resilience in our forests, wetlands, agricultural soils, urban greenspaces and land conservation efforts;
- developing a comprehensive and equitable long-term strategy to drive climate action on all of California’s natural and working lands; and
- articulating a target for the lands sector in the 2022 Scoping Plan to achieve our carbon neutrality target.
As part of the order, Governor Newsom established the California Biodiversity Collaborative—a group comprised of experts, leaders and communities who will develop a unified approach to protecting biodiversity. He has also directed the California Natural Resources Agency to work with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Environmental Protection Agency and other state agencies to bring together leading experts from across California to “advance a unified, comprehensive approach to protecting our state’s biodiversity.” Collectively, these diverse groups will work to inventory current efforts across all sectors as well as expand information and tools to monitor, track and preserve the numerous species of plants and animals.
Newsom’s executive order also directed the agencies to advance strategies to conserve at least 30% of California’s land and waters by 2030 in a manner that preserves biodiversity and natural resources, expands equitable outdoor lands and recreation for all Californians and maintains our state’s economic prosperity. The order calls on state agencies to establish an international model for preserving biodiversity and expand current efforts to keep ecosystems, plants and animals healthy.
Because this mandate will have broad, sweeping changes on how California manages its natural resources, Western Growers President & CEO Dave Puglia recently teamed with California Fresh Fruit Association President Ian LeMay and California Apple Commission Executive Director Todd Sanders to send a letter to the governor expressing serious concern for this potentially far-reaching executive order.
“Our immediate concern is that despite frequent reassurances that you desire a true partnership with our industry, there was no outreach or discussion in the development of this EO. Farmers are the experts in land management and climate resilience due to the fact that their livelihoods and the livelihoods of their employees and entire communities depend upon it. Their voices are important in the development of policy goals, not to mention in implementation,” Puglia, LeMay and Sanders wrote in the letter.
Of California’s approximately 100 million acres of land, 43 million acres are used for agriculture. Of this, 27 million acres are cropland and 16 million acres are grazing land. Needless to say, agriculture will play a significant role in this enormous effort of “truing up” current and future management practices that sequester carbon, reduces atmospheric greenhouse gases, improves soil health, crop protection best practices and irrigation and nutrient management.
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