Ag And Food Groups Unveil Climate Policy Platform
As former Vice President Joe Biden prepares to address climate change across every federal agency in a new administration, a coalition of ag, food and environment groups is laying out a framework for how agriculture can address climate and sustainability.
The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) Tuesday laid out 40 recommendations to guide federal climate policy. The group is a consortium of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, FMI – The Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and The Nature Conservancy.
It’s an interesting mix of sometimes competing interests in federal policy. The group agreed that federal climate policy must, “be built upon voluntary, incentive-based programs and market-driven opportunities; they must promote resilience and adaptation in rural communities; and they must be science-based.”
“We are proud to have broken through historical barriers to form this unique alliance focused on climate policy,” said Zippy Duvall, FACA Co-chair and President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We began discussions not knowing whether we would ultimately reach agreement. It was important to me to reject punitive climate policy ideas of the past in favor of policies that respect farmers and support positive change. Our final recommendations do just that.”
Policy recommendations include:
- Provide voluntary, incentive-based tools and additional technical assistance for farmers, ranchers and foresters to maximize the sequestration of carbon and the reduction of other greenhouse gas emissions, and increase climate resilience.
- Foster the development of private sector GHG markets. The public sector should ensure that verifiable reductions occur and provide farmers and forest owners with the technical support needed to participate.
- Use an array of public and private sector tools to incentivize agricultural and forestry producers to prioritize and scale climate-smart practices.
- Incentivize farmers to reduce energy consumption and increase on-farm renewable energy production, and make continued progress toward reducing the lifecycle GHG emissions of agriculture- and forestry-based renewable energy.
- Reduce the GHG impact of food waste and loss by streamlining confusing consumer-facing packaging and implementing a public-private partnership to achieve a meaningful and workable food date-labeling program.
- Increase federal investment in agriculture, forestry and food-related research substantially and continuously.
The full policy recommendations covering soil health, livestock and dairy, forest and wood products, energy, research and food loss and waste are available at www.agclimatealliance.com.
Adoption of practices such as no-till, cover crops and buffer strips show that voluntary, incentive-based programs are the most effective way to impact climate in agriculture according to Andrew Walmsley, Director of Congressional Relations at the Farm Bureau.
“For our farmers and ranchers, carrots always worked better than sticks,” Walmsley said on the AgriTalk Radio Show. “I mentioned at the beginning that the increase in our outputs, our innovation, the things we've adopted over time, we've done that on a voluntary basis, we've done that with an incentive-based process, and I think that's the only way you're going to be successful with American agriculture. We’re all a little too rebellious to be told what to do from Washington. Mandates are never welcomed on the farm, but we are looking for partners to work together. We want to be better stewards, we recognize there's more that we can do, and that there's societal benefits that, you know, customers, consumers and taxpayers are expecting.”