Yes, it is 500 plus pages, but consider the ambition of the title.
The House Select Committee on Climate Crisis in late June released a mammoth report called “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Economy.”
According to a news release from House Democrats, the plan calls on Congress to proceed with several unassailable goals:
- Grow Our Economy and Put Americans Back to Work in Clean Energy Jobs;
- Protect the Health of All Families;
- Make Sure Our Communities and Farmers Can Withstand the Impacts of Climate Change; and
- Protect America’s Land and Waters for the Next Generation.
The release says an independent analysis shows the House Select Committee plan would save more than 60,000 American lives every year by 2050 through reduced air pollution. What's more, nearly $8 trillion would be saved through 2050 thanks to health and climate benefits.
The report has twelve pillars, and Pillar #8 is “Invest in American Agriculture for Climate Solutions."
From the report:
“America’s farmers and ranchers are critical partners in solving the climate crisis, as many agricultural practices can provide valuable climate and ecosystems benefits. Climate stewardship practices such as no- and low-till farming, planting cover crops, diversified crop rotations, rotational grazing, and improved nutrient management, reduce emissions, enhance carbon sequestration, and make soils more resilient to extreme weather.
Many farmers interested in adopting these practices would benefit from upfront financial and technical assistance from the Department of Agriculture, local conservation districts, extension services, and land-grant universities, including historically black colleges and universities and tribal colleges.
POLICY TOPLINES: Congress should dramatically increase investments to support the efforts of America’s farmers and ranchers to employ climate stewardship practices. This federal commitment to farmers should include more funding for Farm Bill conservation programs and expanded financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers, with a focus on climate mitigation and resilience.
Further, Congress should set climate stewardship practice goals across all U.S. farmland and expand Department of Agriculture resources, research, and partnerships to increase federal capacity to encourage widespread adoption of climate stewardship practices.
To support the next generation of farmers and build a fair, equitable, and climate-friendly food system, Congress should embed climate mitigation and adaptation into programs for new beginning, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and increase investments in these programs.
Congress also should incentivize farmers and ranchers to incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy on-farm and protect their farmland from development and other non-agricultural uses.
As part of a comprehensive approach, Congress also should support local and regional food systems and develop initiatives to combat food waste.”
TK: One interesting provision in the agriculture discussion in the report is the idea of ... “creating a new mechanism to develop markets and certain government program benefits available to farmers who meet a “climate-based producer” certification.” It seems auditors and certification bodies may be well-served by that idea.
On that topic, from the report:
“Climate-based producers” would implement certain practices from a list of options specified by USDA that reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions or increase carbon sequestration. Many private companies, including food and beverage companies, have expressed interest in reducing emissions from their supply chains. As more companies set carbon reduction and neutrality goals, a standardized certification requiring producers to commit to specific climate stewardship practices may be helpful. "
Here is a sampling of friendly comments about the plan from several agriculture and farm groups:
- Eric Deeble, policy director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: “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. The report highlights the tools and resources Congress must provide to equip farmers to adapt to extreme weather and to contribute to the climate solution through carbon sequestration, emissions reductions, and increased resilience. As Congress moves forth with climate legislation, NSAC urges legislators to include the agriculture proposals such as those outlined in the Select Committee’s report. Sustainable and regenerative approaches not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon, they also provide manifold environmental and economic benefits to farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.”
- Tim Fink, policy director, American Farmland Trust: “We commend the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis for its agricultural policy recommendations. We believe measures to retain and protect farmland, increase carbon sequestration through regenerative agricultural practices, and support the next generation of farmers and ranchers are essential to addressing climate change.” -
- Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association: “On behalf of our 9,500 business and farmer members, we thank Chair Castor for her visionary leadership in addressing our climate crisis and highlighting the role organic agriculture plays by sequestering carbon and reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions through practices that build soil health without the use of energy-intensive chemical inputs. Climate Change poses an existential threat to our world and bold policy solutions are needed. Establishing a national organic transition program, increasing technical assistance for organic farmers and incentivizing purchases of healthy organic food in our nation’s schools, hospitals and other institutions are bold steps that will help farmers and local communities while reducing the impact of climate change. Congress should take these recommendations seriously, we stand ready to work with them to bring these solutions to fruition.”
TK: Is the new green deal in agriculture's future? That is speculation, but a change in the White House in 2021 would certainly bring it closer. This 540-page document outlines what that future may look like.