American Farmland Trust Applauds Rep. Pingree’s New Agriculture Resilience Act — Addressing Agriculture and Climate Change
This statement can be attributed to Tim Fink, Policy Director, American Farmland Trust
We applaud Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) for developing and introducing the Agriculture Resilience Act. This legislation recognizes the unique and indispensable role that our nation’s farmers and ranchers can play in addressing climate change. The bill establishes bold goals for reducing agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering more carbon in our soil — envisioning net-zero emissions from the US agricultural system by 2040.
The legislation rightfully takes an all-hands-on-deck approach, bringing to bear many facets of agriculture in combatting climate change, including expanding USDA climate research, conservation programming, and food waste efforts. Special attention is given to improving soil health by incentivizing regenerative practices such as planting cover crops. In addition, the bill recognizes farmland protection as an essential component of any meaningful climate change strategy.
With the conversion of over 25 million acres of agricultural land since 1982, critical carbon sinks have been forever lost to development. The Agriculture Resilience Act rises to this challenge by calling for an increase in annual funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) from $450 million to $700 million. ACEP is the federal government’s only program focused specifically on farmland and ranchland protection, offering matching funding for agricultural easements as well as preservation of wetlands and grasslands.
The Agriculture Resilience Act also calls for the federal government to prevent conversion of farmland and ranchland through its own programs and policies by strengthening the Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA). In addition, the legislation seeks to help a diverse next generation of farmers and ranchers gain access to land. A provision within the bill would incentivize current producers to transfer their land to beginning, young, socially disadvantaged, and veteran producers, provided the land remains in agricultural use for at least ten years.
We hope this legislation spurs further discussion around agriculture’s role in addressing climate change. We look forward to working with Rep. Pingree, the committees of jurisdiction, Congress as a whole, and interested stakeholders in serving as a resource and advancing policies that include producers as part of the solution.
As an organization, American Farmland Trust’s research has demonstrated the ability of farmers to sequester more greenhouse gasses than they emit through the addition of regenerative practices such as conservation tillage and cover crops. We have also shown the climate benefits associated with avoiding farmland conversion. With devastating storms, droughts, floods, and fires already impacting production, our nation’s farmers and ranchers find themselves on the front lines of climate change. The Agriculture Resilience Act presents a comprehensive vision for how producers can both prepare for an uncertain future and lead our nation in meeting the greatest challenge of the 21st century.