Farmers Are Warming Up To The Fight Against Climate Change

Author : relfn0s2o
Publish Date : 2020-12-02


Farmers Are Warming Up To The Fight Against Climate Change

Just over a decade ago, the American Farm Bureau Federation declared war on legislation to slow down global warming. The organization, a lobbying powerhouse, argued that a "cap-and-trade" proposal making its way through Congress would make fuel and fertilizer more expensive and put farmers out of business.

Farmers swarmed Capitol Hill wearing caps with the words "Don't Cap Our Future." And it worked. The legislation died, derailing the boldest plan Congress had crafted to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, the Farm Bureau might be changing course. This week, it announced that it had formed a coalition that plans to push the government to adopt dozens of policy changes that would make it easier for farmers to reduce emissions from agriculture.

"We're going to have a real common sense, science-based discussion about how we protect the climate, and our farmers want to be part of that," said Zippy Duvall, president of the Farm Bureau.

The proposals don't entail regulation or mandatory cuts to agricultural greenhouse gases. Instead, they are voluntary and sometimes involve paying farmers to reduce emissions. Still, the new Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance brings together groups that have often butted heads on environmental policy, from agricultural lobbies, like the Farm Bureau and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, to climate advocates, like the Environmental Defense Fund and the Nature Conservancy.

"It feels like in the past eighteen months, the conversation has just really shifted," says Pipa Elias, director of agriculture for The Nature Conservancy.

The shift is happening for several reasons. Many big food companies have promised to reduce their greenhouse emissions and they're pushing for changes on the farm — and sometimes paying for such changes.

Meredith Niles, a specialist on farming and the environment at the University of Vermont, says that farmers also are reacting to their direct experience. "We see more and more farmers acknowledging climate change, actually being affected by it, through droughts or floods or other impacts," she says."

At the press conference launching the new alliance, Barb Glenn, chief executive of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, said that "everyone in this unique coalition understands and is witnessing the changing of the climate, and we all want to be involved in impacting it."

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