Agriculture Resilience Act Delivers Bold Vision for Net Zero Agriculture

Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2021 by Guest Blogger
United States Capitol building in Washington, DC. Photo credit: USDA.

This blog is  excerpted from a National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) press release. NSAC advocates for federal policy reform for the sustainability of food systems, natural resources, and rural communities and CalCAN is a member. See the original post here

Washington, DC, April 22, 2021 – Today, Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), which outlines a farmer-focused, research-driven path to net zero agriculture. This Earth Week, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is proud to endorse a bill delivering a bold vision for the future of agriculture. The ARA will refocus federal conservation, research, renewable energy, and rural economic development programs on climate resilience and empower farmers and ranchers eager to drive climate change solutions on the ground.

Farmers and ranchers know the fundamental threat that the climate crisis poses to their livelihoods and the viability of agriculture and have called on Congress to support them as they implement climate stewardship practices and build resilience to climate stresses. In response to American producers, Representative Pingree (D-ME) and Senator Heinrich (D-NM) offer the ARA and express their commitment:

Extreme weather events are upending farmers’ bottom lines, threatening their businesses and risking the future of our food supply. Congress must work to keep farmers on their land, and we must work to empower those farmers to implement climate-smart practices that reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and increase their resilience in the face of climate change,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “The Agriculture Resilience Act focuses on solutions that are farmer-driven in order to reach net-zero emissions in this sector by 2040. Climate change deserves a whole-of-government approach, and I’m looking forward to working with the Biden administration to ensure farmers have a seat at the table as we work to address the climate crisis.

“New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers, whose livelihoods depend on the health of our land and water, are on the frontlines of the climate crisis and know all too well the effects that extreme weather events can have on their operations. Through regenerative agriculture and soil management, our producers can simultaneously make their land more resilient and play a large role in the fight against climate change,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. “I’m proud to join Congresswoman Pingree, an organic farmer of more than 40 years, to introduce the Agriculture Resilience Act, which sets a national goal of achieving net-zero emissions in agriculture by 2040 through farmer-led, science-based initiatives. This legislation will make ambitious investments to help our farmers and ranchers improve soil health, expand conservation programs, increase research into climate agricultural practices, and support on-farm renewable energy projects.”

The ARA utilizes existing farm bill programs to keep farmers on the land and in business, while equipping them with the tools and resources they need to be active partners in our efforts to mitigate the climate crisis by doubling funding for conservation programs and tripling agricultural research funding.

The bill was first introduced in the House last Congress and the reintroduced version of the bill, now with a Senate companion, incorporates important modifications. The new version has several co-sponsors in the Senate and House, including Senators Sanders (I-VT) and Gillibrand (D-NY), and Representatives Spanberger (D-VA), Khanna (D-CA), Carbajal (D-CA), Hayes (D-CT), McGovern (D-MA), and Kuster (D-NH).

The new version of the ARA:

  • Expands provisions to better serve and prioritize farmers of color, as well as beginning and veteran farmers and ranchers;
  • Makes conservation programs more accessible to organic and transitioning to organic producers; and
  • Incorporates perennial agriculture throughout the bill, recognizing the climate mitigation and adaptation contributions of these production systems.

In response to the introduction of the bill, NSAC issued the following comment:

“NSAC is proud to endorse the Agriculture Resilience Act and wish to thank Representative Pingree and Senator Heinrich for their leadership in this vital work,” said Eric Deeble, NSAC Policy Director. “This bill continues to be the most comprehensive piece of legislation on climate and agriculture and includes actionable steps toward achieving net zero emissions by 2040.”

The tenets of the ARA are fully in line with the recommendations of NSAC’s 2019 climate report, Agriculture and Climate Change: Policy Imperatives and Opportunities to Help Producers Meet the Challengeand have the full support of our 130+ member organizations nationwide.

The updated section by section and fact sheet for the ARA can be found here.

CalCAN’s Policy Director, Jeanne Merrill, says of the ARA: “Agriculture has so much to offer—and much at stake—when it comes to turning our farms into carbon sinks and making our food system more secure. The Agriculture Resilience Act will provide the resources needed to turn agricultural solutions to climate change into wins for farmers, our health and the environment.”

This Earth Day, Take Action for the Climate!

The Agriculture Resilience Act needs our support to get more cosponsors! Will you call your representatives and ask them to become a cosponsor?

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and leave a message saying something like:

“Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent and a ____ [farmer, parent, concerned citizen, etc.]. As your constituent, I care about climate change! The Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA) provides a roadmap for Congress to support the transition to sustainable and climate-friendly food and agriculture systems, while setting ambitious yet realistic goals for agriculture to be part of the solution to the climate crisis. Will you consider cosponsoring the ARA? Thank you!”

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