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Policy Update: New Climate Alliance Releases Policy Recommendations

Yesterday, the newly-formed Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) released a set of recommendations intended to guide the development of federal climate policy. The Alliance is led by four agriculture and environmental groups: American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the Environmental Defense Fund. The policy recommendations were developed by these organizations in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Food Industry Association, and the National Alliance of Forest Owners.

The recommendations – which focus on soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research, and food loss and waste – were built on three core principles:

  1. Support voluntary, market- and incentive-based policies.
  2. Advance science-based outcomes.
  3. Promote resilience and help rural economies better adapt to climate change.

This Alliance brings together a diversity of groups from across the political spectrum. According to Zippy Duvall of the Farm Bureau, “we are proud to have broken through historical barriers to form this unique alliance focused on climate policy… We began discussions not knowing whether we would ultimately reach an agreement. It was important to me to reject punitive climate policy ideas of the past in favor of policies that respect farmers and support positive change.” Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp echoed this statement, saying “the wide array of perspectives represented in this group — farmers, ranchers, forest owners and environmental advocates — sends a powerful message to Capitol Hill about the urgent need for bipartisan climate legislation.”

These recommendations have several overlaps with AFT’s recent transition policy recommendations, including researching the ability of soil health practices to reduce crop insurance liability, identifying modifications to crop insurance that could accelerate climate-smart farming practices, hiring additional NRCS staff and technical service providers to help implement soil health practices, and prioritizing EQIP and CSP contracts that improve soil health.

One of the more novel recommendations includes a USDA carbon bank funded by the Commodity Credit Corporation which would set a price floor for agricultural carbon credits. This is similar to a concept that has been proposed by leaders on President-elect Biden’s transition team. In addition, the document recommends a carbon sequestration tax credit, a one-time payment to “early adopter” farmers for past conservation activities, a USDA grant program for states to improve soil health, and increased NRCS funding and focus on soil health practices. Finally, it includes a recommendation to adopt the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which AFT supported when it was introduced in the Senate in June 2020.

Recommendation Overview:

  1. Provide voluntary, incentive-based tools and increased technical assistance for farmers, ranchers and foresters to maximize carbon sequestration, reduce GHG emissions, and increase climate resilience.
  2. Foster the development of private sector GHG markets. The public sector should ensure that verifiable reductions occur and provide farmers and forest owners with the necessary technical support.
  3. Incentivize the adoption of climate-smart practices through public and private sector tools such as tax credits, enhanced USDA conservation programs, and a USDA carbon bank.
  4. Incentivize farmers to reduce energy consumption and increase on-farm renewable energy production, and make continued progress toward reducing the lifecycle GHG emissions of agriculture- and forestry-based renewable energy.
  5. Reduce the GHG impact of food waste and loss by streamlining consumer-facing packaging and implementing a public-private partnership to achieve a meaningful and workable food date-labeling program supported by public consumer education.
  6. Increase federal investment in agriculture, forestry and food-related research substantially and continuously. Expand and formalize USDA Climate Hubs to prioritize vital research.

Learn More About AFT's 2021 Transition Recommendations

AFT created a set of transition recommendations for the Biden Administration. These recommendations, which were chosen since they can be implemented without congressional action, are not intended to represent the full breadth of policies supported by AFT since we recognize that there are many other challenges facing agriculture. However, we believe these recommendations are important to build a better future for agriculture.

See our recommendations
About the Author
Emily Liss

Federal Policy Associate

eliss@farmland.org

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