The Marin Agricultural Land Trust and the county are offering native agricultural producers with monetary help to help them survive the drought.
This month, MALT introduced it’ll allocate one other $250,000 to a program that helps Marin County ranchers and farmers address the crucial scarcity of water.
“Despite some early-season rains across the region, forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other experts indicate we’re facing a third year of historic drought,” mentioned Scott Dunbar, MALT’s stewardship program supervisor for sustainable agriculture, in an announcement.
“After monitoring the drought situation closely,” Dunbar mentioned, “MALT’s board came to the conclusion that acting now to provide additional relief will have the greatest benefit for our agricultural community.”
Marin County Agricultural Commissioner Stefan Parnay mentioned, “It’s really great that they’re doing this again because there is such a need.”
In fiscal yr 2020-21, the Marin County Board of Supervisors authorised $50,000 to help agricultural producers shoulder the value of hauling water, and the board allotted one other $90,000 for the similar goal throughout the present fiscal yr.
The supervisors additionally put aside $150,000 throughout the 2021-22 fiscal yr to help specialty crop and nursery inventory producers cope with some $1.3 million in losses.
“I’m hoping the board will approve some additional funds to help support our ranching community for this next fiscal year,” Parnay mentioned.
Rain in October crammed the storage ponds of many agricultural producers, offering them with adequate quantity of water to get via the summer season, Parnay mentioned. He mentioned the greatest short-term problem that ranchers will face this yr is the value of feed.
“Without the consistent rains during the wintertime, the grasses did not grow like they normally would,” Parnay mentioned, “so there is a lot less forage that is available for the livestock.”
The agricultural commissioner mentioned that as a result of the drought is affecting the complete state and some adjoining states as properly, Marin ranchers and farmers should look far afield for his or her feed.
“Come summer time, they’re going to be buying feed from Montana, Idaho and maybe even further east,” he mentioned.
That means Marin agricultural producers should cope not solely with excessive feed prices however sky-high transportation bills, given the value of gasoline.
Dunbar mentioned MALT’s Drought Resilience and Water Security (DRAWS) initiative, which was launched in April 2021, is aimed toward making Marin agriculture extra resilient for the long run. This third allotment of $250,000 comes along with $500,000 that MALT beforehand spent on the program.
DRAWS gives grants of as much as $15,000 per challenge to provide ranchers and farmers the technical help and funding they should design and implement water infrastructure tasks. All Marin ranchers and farmers are eligible to use for DRAWS grants, not simply these agricultural producers who’re protected by MALT agricultural conservation easements.
The earlier two phases of DRAWS funding resulted in 41 ranch and farm development tasks. These included creating new water sources, via springs and wells; constructing water distribution tasks that increase and join water techniques throughout a ranch, usually utilizing pumps and piping; and including water storage capability.
The new tranche of funding implies that seven purposes obtained final fall will now be capable of transfer ahead.
“Last year our ranch went completely dry. Storage ponds dried up. Wells dried up. We were completely reliant on trucked-in water,” Linda Righetti Judah of Lazy R Ranch mentioned in an announcement.
“Thanks to DRAWS, we have installed a rain catchment system and a new 5,000-gallon storage tank,” Judah added. “This has been a game changer for us. Our DRAWS water infrastructure project is part of a broader effort on our ranch to fence off and restore riparian habitat along Stemple Creek.”
Terry Sawyer, co-owner of Hog Island Oyster Co. and of the not too long ago bought and MALT-protected Leali Ranch, mentioned in an announcement, “With the DRAWS funding we have been in a position to deal with an previous spring that had been impacted by cattle grazing on the ranch.
“Water quality and performance were poor. We were able to improve production, secure the spring with gravel and a casing, create water storage and install a water trough away from the source,” Sawyer mentioned. “What seems like a small step enhanced this section of the ranch and allowed us to be better stewards of the land.”
Nancy Chaffin, co-owner (together with her sister Betsy) of the 208-acre Leiss Ranch, mentioned in an announcement, “Life on a ranch is a good life with many challenges: drought, fences and invasive plants. With the help of DRAWS and the Stewardship Assistance Program, we have been able to complete many projects on the land.”