Skip to main content

Cooperative Farm Equipment Program Proposed by Asm. Steve Bennett

For immediate release:

[SACRAMENTO, CA] - Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Ventura) has introduced AB 2313 which would create a new program to increase equipment access for small and underserved growers as well as offering essential technical assistance for farmer cooperative development. Despite the Governor’s veto of this vital legislation last year, our food and farming communities have expressed a continued and strong need for this program which will increase access to necessary farm equipment for healthy soil and on-farm conservation practices, storage, and processing. The program will also offer essential technical assistance to farmers on the development of farm cooperatives as well as the maintenance of tools and tool demonstrations. The bill is co-sponsored by the California Climate & Agriculture Network (CalCAN) and Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF).

The purchase of farm equipment is one of the largest capital investments farmers make and can be inaccessible for small, underserved, and beginning farmers with limited cash flow. These small-scale and often biologically diverse farming operations require a greater variety of costly equipment, some of which is only used a few times a year. Cooperatively managed equipment-sharing can help increase farm viability and local food economies, while supporting the implementation of sustainable agriculture practices.

AB 2313 would support equipment-sharing programs that allow farmers to borrow or lease high-value equipment from regional agricultural centers. The program will fund both existing and new programs to purchase equipment, infrastructure, maintenance, and training, as well as some personnel costs. Eligible groups for the grants include Resource Conservation Districts, UC Cooperative Extension offices, Agricultural Commissioners, Tribal Communities & Governments, as well as appropriate non-profit organizations and farmer cooperatives.

“I’m excited to continue our partnership with CAFF and CalCAN by reintroducing our Farmer Tool Sharing bill. We are eager to bring financial relief for our hard-working farmers across the state by establishing regional tool sharing programs. Farmers face numerous challenges, but this proven and highly sought-after resource can help them overcome major hurdles,” said Assemblymember Bennett.

Nathanael Gonzalez-Siemens, owner of Fat Uncle Farms, shared his experience saying, "Access to equipment was a major challenge when we started. We ultimately partnered with our farming neighbors to purchase and refurbish the implements we needed but couldn’t individually afford. We hope this bill will lead to the formation of more alliances like ours as it could really make a difference especially for beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmers.” Gonzalez-Siemens also sits on the Natural and Working Lands Expert Advisory Committee which supports the implementation of AB 1757.

"As investments to scale healthy soils practices have grown, we've heard loud and clear from growers that access to equipment is a significant barrier,” said Brian Shobe, CalCAN Policy Director. “This bill will help unlock the potential for small and mid-scale growers to access much-needed equipment to implement healthy soils practices such as no-till seed drills, wood chippers, and compost spreaders."

"CAFF is thrilled to be co-sponsoring AB 2313 by Assemblymember Bennett. Small and underserved farmers are struggling with increasing climate pressure, limited cash flow, and have a deep interest in transitioning to more cooperative stewardship. This program offers shared equipment to farmers that would have previously been inaccessible along with technical assistance on tools, equipment maintenance, and on farm cooperative models," said Jamie Fanous, Policy Director at Community Alliance with Family Farmers