Upgrades to food processing are a smart climate investment

March 14, 2023

Once upon a time, when people spoke about a “green economy” they were speaking about agriculture. Now we think about renewable energy. But today’s green economy is as much about agriculture and food production as it is about solar panels and EVs. 

Food processing facilities are an important part of our economy, including in rural areas, which leverage the productive farms and fields across our state. And because they are among the largest sources of greenhouse gasses (GHGs), they represent an economy-boosting opportunity.

Source: Nestec, Inc.

An analysis of opportunities for making operations at potato, dairy, fruit, and other processors more fuel-efficient shows that decarbonization investments are a win-win. Not only for the climate, but also for the processors, the local communities in which they operate, and the state’s economy. There are opportunities for increased efficiency and fuel-switching to cleaner energy sources. Making these changes can also make processing and production operations more resilient, insulating against fuel price volatility. California has demonstrated the power of public investments in private processing facilities with their Food Production Investment Program (FPIP). 

Washington can follow the example of California, where the FPIP has already implemented $113 million and is continuing with another $85 million in a new round of grants being awarded this year. Revenue from the Climate Commitment Act can support GHG-reducing projects that provide additional benefits to local communities. Opportunities such as scaling up the existing Clean Energy Fund or creating industrial decarbonization programs can leverage this revenue. CaPWA is recommending that, through Fiscal Year 2025, $50 million be allocated to Industrial Decarbonization and $105 million – including $25 million specifically to Tribal Nations – be allocated to the Clean Energy Fund.  

Read more about our analysis here:

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