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CUSP Program


IERCD has partnered with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to administer drought relief grants through the California Small and Underserved Producer Program. These are reimbursement grants for expenses incurred as a result of drought. Through this program, direct relief funds will be available to support small and socially disadvantaged producers recovering from drought impacts, such as increased water costs and crop loss due to water availability.

Grant amounts range between $2,500-$20,000.

Round 3 Application Timeline:

  • Applications can be submitted from April 1 – May 31st
  • Applications will be reviewed in June
  • Applications will be processed, and farmers will be notified in June

Eligibility requirements

  • Farmers and ranchers who are actively working the land, derive a portion of their income from their own farm business, and are involved in day-to-day operations on the farm are eligible.
  • Funding is prioritized for small-scale operations and for underserved (socially disadvantaged) communities as described in CDFA’s Farmer Equity Report.
  • Applicants are not eligible for this grant if you received a CDFA CUSP economic relief grant from CAFF, ABIRC, CCOF, or Peoples Land Stewardship Fund within the last 12 months
  • Producers may only receive a maximum CUSP funding of $20,000 every 12 months. IERCD will cross-check applicants with CDFA to ensure no repeat funds are awarded within that time period.


Examples of covered expenses can include but are not limited to:

  • Drilling of new wells or repairs on existing wells if sole source of water for operation. To be eligible, an applicant must provide written verification from a Groundwater Sustainability Agency managing the basin or area of the basin where the well is located or proposed to be located approving the action, per Executive Order N-7-22.
  • Increased electric utility bills of 30% or more due to increased electricity rates
  • Surface water costs if increase from year prior
  • Cost of hauling water for livestock
  • Lowering ag well pumps if a primary source of water is lost
  • Emergency upgrades to irrigation system (paired with conservation) if not covered through CDFA OEFI programs or USDA programs and for other emergency scenarios.
  • Decreased crop yields/crop loss due to less water available or having to fallow land
  • Increased feed costs for dairies and livestock operations

*Not Covered Expenses: Upgrading to a larger pump that will draw more water.


Application Prioritization

  • Applicants identifying as small or medium Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (SDFRs) on their application will receive expedited review.
  • Applicants identifying as small and medium operations, but not SDFRs, will be prioritized for consideration.


Submit your application through one of the links below!


Can producer’s use funds for new purchases (i.e. new equipment or upgrades?) 

No, funds are only available to reimburse losses due to drought, new purchases are not covered.

A producer is now in a different location than last year, can they be eligible for utility cost increases based on a new location? 

An increase in electricity from the previous year attributed to drought can only be covered for the same location /  conditions. If a farmer has moved to a new location, they won’t be eligible to apply for CUSP drought relief funding for an increase in electricity costs as it would be impossible to compare across parcels, the pump might be a different size or depth which would be impossible to compare.

A producer does not have an online account with the utility company 

Utility companies  can provide a summary  of costs from previous years  for the same account and parcel over the phone if the farmer can provide an account number. PG&E gives a monthly summary and comparison of last year’s costs on every monthly statement as well, so farmers can compare it without the need of an account.

What if a producer does not have a contract to their name with the utility company? 

If the producer’s name is not on the electricity bill but they have a lease agreement, this document will suffice to prove an increase in electricity from the previous year / term. If the farmer can procure the lease agreement with the landlord, and copies of the electric bills in the landlord’s name, they can determine the percentage or portion of the bill the farmer is responsible for covering (i.e. this year’s vs. last)

Can farmers outside California apply? 

This fund is specifically designed for farms in California only.