Within the past week, Congress has been busy building upon this momentum and introducing legislation to break down barriers for farmers and foresters to be a part of the climate change solution.
On April 20, Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act. The bill’s overarching purpose is to give producers the opportunity to benefit from climate-smart practices through the sale of carbon credits. Farmers will earn credits by employing voluntary, sustainable farming and forestry practices. The Growing Climate Solutions Act looks to remove those headaches by creating a “one-stop-shop” for farmers who are looking to participate in private carbon markets. A new USDA website will serve as a comprehensive resource with information for farmers and foresters interested in generating carbon credits. It will explain how they can get started and connect them with USDA-certified entities to set up their carbon credit operation and provide more details on the private sector marketplace. On April 22, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry advanced the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 by a voice vote. The legislation can now be considered by the full Senate.
But that was just the beginning. Last week, Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) announced five pieces of legislation to address climate change through natural solutions. In a release, Ranking Member Thompson indicated that these bills are an initial slate of ideas to improve the productivity of America’s agricultural sector while reducing its carbon footprint. He also indicated that more proposals are possible. The proposals include:
- The SUSTAINS Act by Rep. Thompson: Sponsoring USDA Sustainability Targets in Agriculture to Incentivize Natural Solutions Act;
- The RESTORE Act by Doug LaMalfa (R-CA): Restoring Environments, Soils, Trees and Operations to develop the Rural Economy Act;
- The NO EMITS Act by Rodney Davis (R-IL): Naturally Offsetting Emissions by Managing and Implementing Tillage Strategies Act;
- The FIRE Act by Dusty Johnson (R-SD): Forestry Improvements to Restore the Environment Act;
- The PRECISE Act by Ashley Hinson (R-IA): Producing Responsible Energy and Conservation Incentives and Solutions for the Environment Act.
Federal policy can and should provide incentives and support for farmers, ranchers, and forest owners as they tackle challenges created by climate change. With U.S. agriculture contributing only around 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, the fact that farmers are on track to reduce their already relatively small carbon footprint is a sign that they are already committed to good environmental stewardship.
Arizona Farm Bureau will continue to work with Arizona’s Congressional Delegation to ensure that any proposals regarding climate change are incentive based, and market driven. To stay up to date on climate change policy and respond to call-to-action alerts, text AZFB to 50457 to sign up to our text alert system!