Today, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) reintroduced the Agriculture Resilience Act. The research-driven and farmer-focused act paves the way to achieving net-zero agricultural emissions by 2040.
With Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Pingree first introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act in April 2021. The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) endorsed the bold climate and agriculture marker bill then, and does so again with its reintroduction.
Since the Agricultural Resilience Act’s (ARA) original introduction, farmers have increasingly recognized their place on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Not only are they equipped with solutions to enhance climate resilience, but they’re also some of the first to experience the impacts of extreme weather events and the vulnerabilities they bring.
“To a farmer, climate change is more than the hotter, colder, wetter, and drier weather. It’s about the impacts on our soils, the soil food web, food nutrition, and what’s left of our biodiverse habitats that support all living things, including, unfortunately, us,” said Jeff Dickinson, a farmer, educator, and researcher at Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, Ohio.
“For the regenerative farmer, climate change is impacting our living soils in many negative ways,” Dickinson continued. “We are witnessing the loss of our ability to manage things like building soil organic matter or soil calcium availability through deep-rooted and long-term crop rotations. For the first time in my 50 years of working on the land, I have been losing ground on my soil’s calcium levels—to the point I have had to start liming again. The same can be said for other soil and plant nutrients.”
Fortunately, agriculture can play a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening food systems in the face of climate threats. The ARA establishes aggressive, yet realistic, goals to help farmers mitigate the impacts of our changing climate and increase the resilience of their operations.
The legislation is centered around six key areas: research; soil health; farmland preservation and farm viability; pasture-based livestock; on-farm renewable energy; and food loss and waste. In its reintroduced version, the ARA also includes increased support for producers using voluntary, holistic management systems through organic certification, and a grant program to increase resilience and diversification of meat processing.
“Many members of Congress favor voluntary approaches and measures to promote increased food security in the United States. This bill is a critical venue for achieving those goals,” said OEFFA Policy Director Amalie Lipstreu.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, agricultural activities contribute roughly 11 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The ARA recognizes the important role farmers can play in advancing the goal of a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions of the agriculture sector by 2050. By prioritizing soil health, encouraging diverse conservation practices, and supporting the adoption of renewable energy systems, the ARA is among few in addressing one of the most pressing issues of our day: the climate crisis.
“The farm bill has a chance to address and promote our distinct needs and values, and the ARA they are proposing represents what I and farmers like myself need and demand,” said Kristy Buskirk of Clay Hill Organic Farm in Tiffin, Ohio. “Time is running out for us to proactively make the changes to address climate change and soil and planet health.”
“Realizing the vision set forth in this significant piece of legislation would provide farmers the resources and support they need to play a leading role in securing a future where healthy, sustainably-produced food is the norm,” Lipstreu said. “We applaud Rep. Pingree for her reintroduction of the Agriculture Resilience Act and encourage you to ask your Ohio delegates to support this bill and, in turn, the viability of OEFFA members and farmers across the country.”
Learn more about how OEFFA is advocating for climate action through five 2023 Farm Bill Priorities at action.oeffa.com/farm-bill.