Conservation Commission News

Sustainable Farms and Fields Program funding available for voluntary, climate-smart projects 

Sustainable Farms and Fields Program funding available for voluntary, climate-smart projects 
Starting today, the one-of-a-kind program focused on climate-smart farming practices is open for applications  

The Washington State Conservation Commission's (SCC) new climate-friendly program, the Sustainable Farms and Fields (SFF) program, is open for applications from public entities. SFF is accepting applications from entities that will help farmers and ranchers participate in activities that sequester carbon or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.  

Established in 2020 (RCW 89.08.610-635), the Governor’s Office and the State Legislature invested $2 million in the 2022 supplemental operating budget to help get this first-of-its-kind program off and running.  

“The goal of the SFF program is to increase climate-smart practices,” Chris Pettit, SCC’s executive director, said. “It incentivizes producers by providing technical and financial support to improve farming practices through conservation districts and other public entities.”  

SFF program managers are asking applicants to review the programmatic guidelines for NRCS climate-smart practices eligible for funding. “We are excited to roll out this program for the first time, using this grant money to fund climate-smart practices and technical assistance on farmland, rangeland, and aquaculture tidelands in Washington.” 

“The SFF program will support Washington’s farmers, ranchers, and shellfish growers by allowing them to increase climate-smart practices that also provide co-benefits that can improve soil health, water and air quality, and habitat, as well as strengthen economic resiliency,” said Alison Halpern, SCC scientific policy advisor. “Because of the valuable feedback producers from across the state offered, the Legislature was able to create a flexible, scalable, and beneficial program to farms of all sizes.”   

Conservation districts and other public entities can apply for a single cost-share grant that serves an individual farm, which must be pre-identified in the application. Additionally, conservation districts and other public entities apply for funding to provide technical or financial assistance to implement climate-smart practices on numerous farms or ranches at a more significant or regional scale.  

 Potential grant-eligible activities include: 

  • providing personalized and on-site technical expertise, such as developing climate-smart farm plans. 
  • sharing the cost of climate-smart practices/projects, such as planting trees/shrubs, implementing no-till/direct seeding, managing manure storage and application, planting cover crops, composting/mulching, and purchasing precision agriculture equipment/technology. 
  • purchasing seed, spores, animal feed, and soil amendments. 
  • purchasing shared-use equipment (e.g., no-till planter) that will be made available through local entities, such as conservation districts or farm co-ops. 

Who can apply?  

The Sustainable Farms and Fields program is open to conservation districts and other public entities that possess the expertise to provide technical assistance and the capacity to implement climate-smart practices. These entities include: 

  • conservation districts 
  • state agencies 
  • colleges, universities, and extension offices 
  • federally recognized tribes 
  • counties 
  • cities, towns, and other municipalities 
  • special purpose districts 

The application deadline is ongoing, and SCC will allocate the money on a rolling basis, so it is in your best interest to apply early. The first review of applications will be on Nov. 23 of this year.

Projects must be completed by June 30, 2023.