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Brown’s budget proposes boosts of UC, ag research

Tim Hearden

Capital Press

State agencies that work with agriculture would get a boost under Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget. The state Department of Food and Agriculture would receive $20 million in cap-and-trade funds for environmental efforts, and a $142.2 million increase for the University of California could help extension services.

SACRAMENTO — State agencies that work with farmers and ranchers would get a boost under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture would receive an extra $20 million in cap-and-trade revenue for nitrogen and dairy digester research and development of renewable fuels, Secretary Karen Ross explained on the agency’s website.

And the governor’s $142.2 million funding increase for the University of California should help the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, although officials don’t know yet exactly how the new money would be distributed.

“We’re very pleased with the governor’s proposed budget and encouraged by the show of support for the university,” division vice president Barbara Allen-Diaz said in an email. “UC has always been supportive of UC Cooperative Extension as its representative in communities throughout California.”

Allen-Diaz said her office is “committed to rebuilding” the extension and hiring more advisors.

Brown’s budget includes other items of interest to farmers, including $1.8 million and 11 new positions at the State Water Resources Control Board to tackle illegal water diversions for marijuana cultivation, the California Cattlemen’s Association noted in a newsletter.

For agriculture-related agencies, the budget proposal unveiled Jan. 9 marks a reversal of fortunes from two years ago, when the CDFA was grappling with about $33 million in cuts while the UC system was dipping into reserves to absorb a sudden $100 million hit.

Thanks in part to a voter-approved sales and income tax increase in 2012, the CDFA received a slight increase last year and the university enjoyed a $500 million infusion.

This year, Brown proposes general fund contributions of nearly $3 billion to the UC and $63.1 million for Food and Agriculture. The CDFA’s general-fund budget would be virtually unchanged from last year after the department received as much as $99 million a few years ago.

However, revenue from the state’s new cap-and-trade auction system would be set aside for efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. This would include $12 million to help design and build dairy digester systems, $5 million to reduce nitrogen contamination in groundwater and $3 million to reduce fuel emissions, according to Ross’ post on the CDFA’s Planting Seeds blog.

The governor also proposes $100 million in cap-and-trade funds for the Sustainable Communities program, which includes farmland preservation, and $1 million for a food safety laboratory the CDFA and UC operate jointly, Ross noted. Also, $2 million in one-time funds would be used to maintain several CDFA facilities around the state, she explained.

Online

California Department of Food and Agriculture: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov

University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources: http://ucanr.edu



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