Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) Launches New Initiative for Drought Resilience and Water Security

POINT REYES STATION, California – (COMMERCIAL THREAD)–The Marine agricultural land trust (MALT), a pioneering farmland trust in Marin County, California, today announced it is launching a Drought Resilience and Water Security Initiative (DRAWS) to help address shortages of critical water affecting farmers and ranchers in Marin County.

The MALT coordinates drought relief efforts with several local organizations, in close collaboration with the following partners:

  • Marine Resources Conservation District (MRCD)

  • Marin County Department of Agriculture

  • University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)/ Marin County

  • USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

  • Students and teachers restore a watershed (STRAW)

  • Marin County Farm office

As news reports began to sound the alarm bells about the drought in California, Marin organizations began responding to calls from farmers and ranchers asking about the drought’s resources.

“We are in the midst of the worst drought to hit California in 50 years,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., CEO of MALT. “A group of organizations are taking collective action to address this serious threat to Marin County ranchers and farmers and our food security. ”

The DRAWS initiative is based on the MALT Stewardship Assistance Program

“The DRAWS initiative is a direct response to worsening drought conditions and builds on the very successful MALT Stewardship Assistance Program,” said Eric Rubenstahl, MALT Stewardship Program Director .

As part of the DRAWS initiative, MALT is investing $ 250,000 in drought resilience and water security projects as part of an extension of its Stewardship Assistance Program (SAP), which provides subsidies that provide farmers and ranchers with the resources they need to manage their land sustainably.

Established in 2002 with the aim of improving the quality of soil and water in the region, SAP has served as an effective tool to increase agricultural utility and improve the ecological function of MALT ranches. Due to the widespread nature of the drought crisis, the DRAWS initiative will expand the PAS to accept grant applications from all ranchers and farmers in Marin County, not just those protected by MALT’s agricultural conservation easements. DRAWS grants will be strategically evaluated on their ability to create the greatest long-term value for the farming community.

Mike Giammona, owner of Millerton Creek Ranch, reports that the drought has dried up natural springs, putting the health of his cattle herd at risk. A new technical plan and financial assistance will allow Giammona to bring water from the ranch’s reservoir to its existing water supply infrastructure.

“Without this immediate support, I’m not sure our cattle would have survived,” Giammona said. “I cannot thank MALT enough for being ready and available to support farmers and ranchers when we need it most, especially when it comes to weathering this drought. ”

Collective action focused on combating local drought

Each of the organizations designating resources and providing funding offers support in line with their respective missions. For example:

  • The MRCD coordinates water development and soil health projects across the region.

  • The Marin County Department of Agriculture coordinates efforts with various water agencies to provide access to non-potable water for irrigation. They have received approval for a $ 50,000 cost-sharing program – and are working to approve an additional $ 150,000 – for drought aid to pastoralists.

  • UCCE organizes a workshop on drought management in May and publishes Resources for farmers and ranchers.

“This drought is affecting our entire community, and it is extremely important that everyone do their part to conserve water,” said Nancy Scolari, Executive Director of MRCD. “Equally important is supporting our food producers with infrastructure and water resource needs as they grapple with agricultural decisions regarding fallow fields, early livestock sales and expensive transportation strategies. water by truck. We want to help everyone get through this crisis. ”

“Our many local, state and federal partners have joined forces to support our agricultural industry during this historic drought,” said Stefan Parnay, Acting Agriculture Commissioner for Marin County. “It is incumbent on all of us to come together as a community to ensure that our agricultural producers who provide us with essential fresh agricultural products and value-added products continue to thrive. Bold, creative and long-term solutions are needed to help our producers weather drought in the future. ”

About MALT

Marin Agricultural Land Trust is a non-profit organization established in 1980 to permanently preserve Marin County’s farmland and make Marin County a thriving farming community in a healthy and diverse natural environment. Some of the Bay Area’s most acclaimed dairy and meat products and organically grown crops are produced on MALT protected farmland, which totals over 54,000 acres on 86 family farms and ranches. To learn more about MALT, visit malt.org.

Amalia H. Mercado