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California growers get federal funding to become eco-friendly

California growers get funding for eco-friendly farming
California growers get funding for eco-friendly farming 02:20

SUTTER COUNTY - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Climate Smart Commodities Program," is allocating a total of $130 million in federal money to California farmers to lessen their impact on the climate, including lowering water usage and carbon emissions.

"California grows 80% of the almonds," said Kelli Evans, Owner of Evans farming in Sutter County, whose family has grown the nuts for decades. "Our family has been farming since 1948. It's changed dramatically and it's amazing how each generation sees such differences."

In recent years, Almond growers like Kelli have worked to upgrade their systems, to be more eco-friendly Including changing the way they water crops. Instead of flooding the orchard, Kelli now uses a system that controls how much water crops get and when.  

"This is going to show me where my water levels are. We use moisture sensors to tell us how much to water," said Evans.

But there's one problem with eco-friendly practices.

"They're extremely expensive," said Evans.

That's where the federal government comes in. A grant worth $130 million will go to California farmers to develop or continue using more eco-friendly farming strategies including lowering water usage and capturing carbon.

 "We're helping improve our greenhouse emissions as a whole for everyone around us," said Evans, whose new irrigation systems, environmentally friendly tractors, and cover crops that capture carbon emissions are great for the environment but tough on their pockets the grant money will help.

 "I think this grant will help drive this industry," said Evans.

Evans Farming grows for Blue Diamond, a company that controls a large share of California's almond crops. If they can improve farming practices, it could make a major difference for California as a whole.

 "We live where we farm and we raise our children here so it's like anyone else -- we want to live healthily," said Evans.

It's unclear how or when the grant money will be funneled to farmers, but for Evans Farming, it will be necessary for the long term to continue to grow almonds in a sustainable way.

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