Today, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis released its long-awaited report offering climate policy recommendations to the standing committees, laying the groundwork for broad climate legislation in the near future. The Committee’s report, titled “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy and Just America”, underscores agriculture’s unique role as a “natural climate solution” critical to limiting the effects of global warming.
In addition to recommendations on energy and transportation programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the country, the report includes a chapter on agriculture and its role in addressing the climate crisis. For example, agriculture can help with the crisis by increasing carbon sequestration through regenerative agricultural practices, protecting and retaining farmland, and supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
Many farm groups were pleased with the report. Eric Deeble, Policy Director at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said, “NSAC applauds the Select Committee for acknowledging agriculture’s critical role in mitigating the climate crisis in their report. Farmers and ranchers work at the frontlines of climate change, and they hold a unique position to sequester carbon in our country’s soils through best management practices for soil health, crop and livestock integration, and agroforestry.”
NSAC hopes that in addition to recognizing agriculture’s contribution to mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis, Congress will continue to support and invest in farmers and ranchers and provide them with the tools and resources they need to implement whole-farm practices that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve environmental outcomes, and build resilience on their lands.
Tim Fink, Federal Policy Director at American Farmland Trust said, “AFT strongly supports the recommendation to increase funding and capacity for USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, and Regional Conservation Partnership Program. These programs are critical for incentivizing producers to adopt regenerative practices with proven climate benefits, such as cover cropping and rotational grazing. AFT’s research estimates that if 100% of U.S. cropland adopted conservation tillage, and just 25% adopted cover crops, agriculture’s annual emissions would be reduced by a quarter. In addition to sequestering carbon, many of these practices make soils more productive and resilient to flooding and drought, while also improving water quality. Additionally, healthier soils can help farmers reduce inputs, benefitting their bottom line.”
Fink continued, “We believe that climate change is both a challenge and an opportunity to engage in win-win-win solutions that benefit the land, the environment, and the people who steward the land.”