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Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

The California Department of Food and Agriculture as well as various state and local agencies opened grant opportunities to the agriculture industry with deadlines approaching this Fall. Central Valley farmers are eligible to receive Fall 2024 funding for specialty plant projects, equipment upgrades, and other agricultural innovations.  


CDFA’s Biologically Integrated Farming Systems Program opened in June and will close on Aug. 31. The grant program supports projects with biologically integrated plant-based farming systems to chemical pesticide inputs. The grant funding capacity is $1 million, but CDFA expects to fund one to two projects.  

Farmers within 16 air districts in the Valley are also eligible to participate in the FARMER Shared Application Pool, including Eastern Kern County. The program, directed by the California Air Resources Board, aims to replace farm equipment to lower emissions and influence air quality. Eligible farmers can apply to replace older tractors, harvesters, and other farm equipment before August 31. 


The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program opened in August, providing an opportunity for California specialty crop growers to improve performance in local, domestic, national, and international markets. Grant applications are due by Sept. 7, and selected recipients will receive funding from $100,000 to $500,000 for two years.  


As part of CDFA’s Climate Smart investments, the 2023 Urban Agriculture Grant Program is open to various California cities, including Fresno and Bakersfield until the Oct. 23 deadline. Urban agriculture projects are eligible for $75,000 to $300,000 in funding, including small plot cultivation, raised beds, vertical production, and other urban innovations.  


The Community Alliance With Family Farmers created a grant program for California farmers—the Small Farm Innovation Challenge. The program is open to farmers, entrepreneurs, students, and other inventors to propose a technology-based invention to help small-scale farms compete in the industry. 

While the challenge is open to global innovators, primary recognition will go to California. Inventions can be placed into one of three categories — DIY Innovators, Software Innovators, or Hardware Innovators. All submissions are due by Nov. 15, with awards of up to $10,000.  

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