In the past two years, members of the U.S. Congress have increasingly become interested in policies aimed at curbing emissions and tackling the causes and effects of climate change. The issue a priority for many in the large class of first-term House Democrats elected in 2018, who have put new energy into long-standing efforts by the party on climate change. Meanwhile, Republicans are starting to put forth their own ideas on how to curb the effects of climate change, looking at things like carbon capture technologies, tax credits, and efforts to plant more trees.
Below is information on some of these efforts and legislation that is supported by NFU.
Recent Congressional Actions on Climate Change
Senate Agriculture Committee hearing “Farmers and Foresters: Opportunities to Lead in Tackling Climate Change”: Oklahoma Farmers Union member Clay Pope testified in support of congressional action to provide family farmers and ranchers with tools and resources to mitigate the effects of and adapt to climate change. The hearing can be viewed here.
Senate Agriculture Committee hearing to “Review S. 3894, The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020”: NFU President Rob Larew testified in support of the bill and how, with the right protections for farmers in place, it could help farmers and ranchers as they look to engage in carbon markets, spurring the creation of a new source of income. The hearing can be viewed here.
The Senate Democrat’s Special Committee on the Climate Crisis: This committee is working to develop a climate change platform for Senate Democrats in preparation for a potential window for legislation in 2021. The committee requested feedback from agriculture and rural groups as part of this process. Read NFU’s comments here.
The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis: The committee issued a report making economy-wide recommendations for how to reduce emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. Read NFU’s comments to the committee on the best path forward for family farmers and ranchers here.
Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on “Climate Change and the Agricultural Sector”: On May 21, 2019, the Senate Agriculture Committee heard from farmers, ranchers, and other experts on issues related to climate change and agriculture. Read NFU’s testimony here.
House Agriculture Committee hearing “Managing for Soil Health: Securing the Conservation and Economic Benefits of Healthy Soils”: On June 25, 2019, the House Agriculture Committee Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee heard from farmers and researchers on the environmental and economic benefits of healthy soils.
Legislation endorsed by NFU
NFU reviews and has weighed in on many climate related bills. Among the bills that NFU has recently endorsed are:
- The Agricultural Resilience Act, Rep. Chellie Pingree
- The Farmer Driven Conservation Outcomes Act, Sens. Bob Casey and Shelly Moore Capito
- The Growing Climate Solutions Act, Sens. Mike Braun and Debbie Stabenow
Other climate and agriculture policy efforts
Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance: NFU has joined with other farm, forestry, and food groups to craft policy recommendations for Congress and USDA to act on climate change. The more than 40 recommendations look to encourage climate action through soil health management, livestock production, renewable energy, forest management, and food waste reduction. Read NFU’s statement on the recommendations here.
USDA Agriculture Innovation Agenda: USDA launched a department-wide effort in February 2020 aimed at increasing U.S. agricultural production while cutting its environmental footprint in half by 2050. Read NFU’s statement on the initiative here. NFU has also submitted comments to USDA calling for publicly funded, scientifically sound research on climate, economics, and other issues affecting agricultural sustainability.
Joe Biden’s Plan for Rural America and Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice: The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is calling for a net-zero emissions goal for agriculture and more money for climate-smart farming, arguing that these efforts can create new sources of income for farmers.