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Agricultural and Environmental Groups Applaud Passage of New York Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act 

(Albany, NY) Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act today, sponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Assemblywoman Didi Barrett and Senator Michelle Hinchey, into law to help New York farmers increase soil health practices that support farm viability, water quality and help fight climate change.  

American Farmland Trust and more than one dozen agricultural and environmental partners that worked with sponsors, applaud the passage of the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act. This bill sets a definition of soil health into law, creates a soil health and climate initiative at the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, and initiates a process to set voluntary, science-based soil health standards farmers can work to meet. 

“As New York State mobilizes to take swift and bold action on climate change, farms are a critical part of the solution. We commend Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, and Senator Michelle Hinchey for their work in sponsoring a bill that uplifts the important role of farmers and farmland with unanimous passage by the legislature. We also thank Gov. Hochul for signing it into law today and Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball for his leadership,” said Erica Goodman, New York Regional Director for American Farmland Trust. “This law provides important support for farmers in adopting soil health practices that improve water quality, promote resilience to extreme weather events, and increase carbon sequestered in soils to help New York meet its climate goals while creating a more viable future for agriculture.” 

Andy Bicking, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy for Scenic Hudson, said, “Conserving soil resources has always been a hallmark of caring for the environment and good farming. The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act recognizes this and takes the visionary step of defining healthy soils and promoting the practices that create them. These goals are essential to address climate change and secure the economic viability of agriculture. As we have heard from the Climate Action Council’s Agricultural and Forestry Advisory Panel, many of these regenerative strategies have been practiced for generations by organic and BIPOC farmers. Governor Hochul’s leadership will bring together the many stakeholders who are engaged in this issue and create voluntary soil health standards that will guide on-the-ground decisions across New York State. I look forward to working with her administration and the Legislature to identify actions that build on the new law and enhance the climate-resilience of the state’s agriculture. Scenic Hudson offers its congratulations to the governor, Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball, Assembly members Donna Lupardo and Didi Barrett, and Senator Michelle Hinchey, without whom this important achievement would not have been possible.” 

Elizabeth Wolters, Deputy Public Policy Director for New York Farm Bureau, said, “New York farmers have made great strides in improving soil health and fighting climate change, and today’s action by the Governor, signing the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act will build on that success. This legislation will assist farmers with implementing best management practices that will store more carbon in the soil, reduce runoff, and improve farm productivity by making our farms more resilient to the impacts of extreme weather. New York Farm Bureau thanks Gov. Hochul and the Agriculture Committee Chairs, Sen. Hinchey and Assembly Member Lupardo, for their leadership and support for this important bill.” 

Jessica Ottney Mahar, New York Policy and Strategy Director for The Nature Conservancy, said, “We all depend on healthy soil. With it, farmers grow food for millions of New Yorkers. Healthy soil also protects clean water and stores carbon. The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act will further the work of farmers and researchers to conserve and steward local lands in a climate-changing world. This program will enhance farm viability, reduce pollution, and protect lakes, rivers, and bays. The Nature Conservancy thanks Senator Hinchey and Assemblywoman Lupardo for their leadership on this issue and Gov. Hochul for signing this important bill into law.” 

Bethany Wallis, Executive Director of NOFA-NY, said, “The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act brings public attention to soil, the natural resource on which we all depend for food and fiber and will bring added resources to farmers who are already building healthy soils, nourishing our essential agricultural lands.” 

Peter Lehner, Managing Attorney for Sustainable Food at Farming at Earthjustice and author of Farming for Our Future: The Science, Law, and Policy of Climate-Neutral Agriculture, said, “Agriculture is often overlooked when we develop plans to curb climate change. Yet, there are many ways our food producers can both reduce emissions and increase carbon stored in soil and plants – ways that will also help their operations become more resilient to the extreme weather climate change is bringing. We applaud the legislature and Gov. Hochul for enacting this bill to accelerate adoption of these beneficial soil health practices in New York.” 

Troy Weldy, President of Columbia Land Conservancy, said, “The Columbia Land Conservancy is excited for the passage of the NY Soil Health Bill which will support farmers while promoting the research and farming practices necessary to address the urgent need for climate action.”  

Whitney Beaman, Sustainability Program Manager at New York Wine & Grape Foundation, said, “Healthy soils are essential to producing world class wines and grapes, and we are thrilled that New York State has taken this important step forward in providing growers with the assistance that they need to improve the health and resiliency of this valuable agricultural asset.” 

Alyssa Kealy, Director of Member Services and Industry Relations for Northeast Dairy Producers Association, said, “As an organization founded on environmental stewardship, Northeast Dairy Producers Association thanks Governor Kathy Hochul for signing into law the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act. This legislation, sponsored by Agriculture Chairs Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Michelle Hinchey, will help farmers enhance their efforts in improving soil health and mitigating climate change. The soil health and climate change initiatives established at New York State Agriculture and Markets, with input from Cornell and industry experts, will provide farmers throughout the state with science-based best practices that can be practically applied on the farm. Maintaining healthy soils and implementing climate resilient farming practices are vital to the viability of New York farms for generations to come.” 

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American Farmland Trust is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since 1980, AFT’s innovative work has helped to permanently protect more than 6.5 million acres of farmland and ranchland and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more. No Farms, No Food. Learn more at www.farmland.org. 

 

About the Author
Erica Goodman

Farms for a New Generation Director

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