Celebrating Two Years of MALT’s Drought Resilience Initiative

June 7, 2023

From the fall of 2019 through 2022, California experienced one of its worst droughts in recorded history. Our agricultural community which produces our food and fiber has been on the front lines of this extreme weather.

Responding to our community’s need, in the spring of 2021, MALT launched the Drought Resilience and Water Security (DRAWS) initiative to help all Marin County ranchers and farmers with emergency drought relief. Through the DRAWS initiative, all Marin County agricultural producers were eligible for $15,000 grants for projects that developed water sources, added water storage, and increased water distribution.

At the two-year anniversary of this program, together we’ve made great progress. To date we have committed more than $916,000 to 75 water infrastructure projects that build long-term resilience against the impacts of climate change. The success of this small grants program is a testament to the valuable work of Marin’s ranchers and farmers, ongoing collaborations with partner agencies and organizations, and the generosity of MALT’s community of supporters.

Impact to date:

“Drought is one of the stressful, helpless experiences as a farmer. The DRAWS program was vital for us to adapt and continue to provide water for our animals. To know MALT will help during our greatest times of need offers security even in the most desperate situations like a drought.

– Marissa Silva, Silva Family Dairy

“I’m incredibly grateful for all of MALT’s support over the years. Their ability to act quick and help us get set up with extended piping and a new water tank location was a huge help this year and allowed us to increase water distribution and reduce grazing impact around the ranch. This is the infrastructure we depend upon. ”

– Mike Giammona, Millerton Creek Ranch

“The MALT DRAWS program is a fantastic opportunity to create water infrastructure systems on Marin County agriculture properties for long-term sustainability, grazing enhancement with carbon farming and additional water sources for fire protection during times of drought.”

– Jody Brazil, Brazil Angus

A Future of Drought Resilience:

As climate scientists have predicted, California is now experiencing new severities in its extreme weather events. From the fall of 2019 through 2022, the state experienced one of its driest periods in recorded history. This historic drought was punctuated by periods of unprecedented rain — including a 25-day-straight barrage of atmospheric rivers this past December into January, that inundated our communities with flooding, persistent power outages, and even loss of life.

Through the DRAWS initiative, MALT has made strategic investments that have bolstered our community’s resilience to this hydrologic whiplash. Through these responsive small grants, we have helped meet our community’s urgent needs as well as better prepare the region for the uncertainty of our climate’s future. We are all now better prepared for the challenges of our rapidly changing climate, with a regional food system bolstered for the droughts of tomorrow.

In the video above, Jim Jensen, a sixth generation rancher from Tomales and MALT board member, explores the complexities of this latest drought and the fruition of the DRAWS initiative.

Next Steps:

Drought resilience involves preparing for the worst in the best of times. With the progress we made, we are now turning our attention towards adapting this emergency initiative into a permanent small grants program addressing the ongoing needs of our community. We have learned the importance of listening and quickly responding as new challenges and opportunities present themselves — a model we plan to replicate for continued impact.

The success of the DRAWS initiative would not have been possible without the continued commitment of our generous donors, the support of our partner agencies, and, of course, the participation and dedication of local farmers and ranchers. We thank everyone for making this program a success and invite you to join us as we continue to deepen our work within this community.

Stay tuned.

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