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Grant aimed at helping California citrus growers in Kern, and 10 other counties, on the horizon

Citrus Trees (FILE)
Posted at 5:23 PM, Jan 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 20:23:52-05
  • As part of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Healthy Soil Block Grant Pilot program, $5 million was allocated for Citrus Growers in Kern County, as well as 10 other counties across California.
  • The grant's purpose is to create resilient, sustainable, and productive farmland in these counties through a variety of tactics, like hedgerow planting,carbon sequestration, and soil management practices.
  • The grant is being administered by the California Citrus Quality Council, the California Farm Bureau Federation, and the Xerces Society.
  • In an email from the California Farm Bureau, applications for the grant are not being accepted at this time, but they hope to start accepting them by March or April.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

You might be wondering why I'm in the car and the short answer is: bees. This time of year farmers are using bees to help pollinate their fields. Now recently, the California Department of Food and Agriculture announced that there is a grant aim to kind of help these bees.

Really, the point of this grant is to help create resilient and sustainable farmland which will in turn provide habitat for pollinators, much like them.

Kern County citrus growers are part of 11 other counties that are eligible for a grant that is focused on "hedgerow planting, carbon sequestration and soil management practices, all of which creates safe pollinator habitat in citrus groves," per a California Farm Bureau release.

In short, the grant's purpose is to build resilient, sustainable and productive farmland. The grant is being administered by a team of organizations: the California Citrus Quality Council, the California Farm Bureau Federation and the Xerces Society. Eric Lee-Mader with the Xerces Society so the goal is to ensure the soil and counties across California stays ready for planting for generations to come.

"The citrus industry has been hit pretty hard by pest and disease pressure. And I think the traction that citrus now has in California has really strengthened the position of the growers," said Lee-Mader.

While citrus growing tactics do not typically require pollinators, Lee-Mader mentioned this grant hopes to build resilient and sustainable farmland where pests are limited and, with that, create safe pollinator habitats. Something Wasco-area beekeeper Christopher Carlberg says has been trouble for several years.

"In an effort to kill, you know, the navel orangeworm, the mosquitoes, you know, the bees tend to suffer, unfortunately. So, you know, as beekeepers, the general rule of thumb is you got to be in and out of the citrus groves," said Carlberg.

The total grant funding allotted to this is [approximately] $5 million. Applications for the grant are not open, but according to the Farm Bureau Federation they hope to have them open in the coming months.


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