As the climate crisis deepens, Congress is preparing to take significant action on climate change. We must ensure that climate policy supports the work that sustainable farmers and ranchers are doing to build soil health, sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and make their farms resilient to the changing climate.
Congress needs to provide farmers and ranchers with financial incentives, technical assistance, and research to help them expand the use of climate stewardship farming practices across the nation. We must reduce the risk to producers in shifting to new climate-friendly agricultural practices by investing in relevant technical assistance, financial incentives, and research—especially for farmers of color and historically underserved producers.
The Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA) is a farmer-focused, research-driven path to net zero agriculture which prioritizes investments in existing programs that are already working, but underfunded. Ask your members of Congress to co-sponsor today!
What is in the bill? The Act contains provisions for increasing investment in agricultural research, improving soil health, supporting the transition to pasture-based livestock, ensuring farmland preservation and viability, promoting on-farm renewable energy, and reducing food waste. It’s a comprehensive approach, and you can read all its provisions here; but here are a few of RAFI-USA’s favorites:
- Section 206 increases funding for NIFA public breed and cultivar competitive grants, creates the position of public breed and cultivar research coordinator, and calls for creation of a strategic plan that includes a focus on delivery of resource-efficient, stress-tolerant, regionally adapted livestock breeds and crop cultivars
- Sections 302 and 303 prioritize climate mitigation/adaptation practices within the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program
- Section 402 increases the maximum annual organic certification cost share payment from $750 to $1000 per certification scope.
- Section 502 creates a new grant program for expanding or establishing small or very small meat and poultry processing establishments. Sustainable farmers & ranchers depend on small independent processing – expanding this capacity is crucial for supporting climate-friendly pasture-based livestock and poultry!
The more you know…
The ARA is a “marker bill,” so it won’t come up for a vote on its own. Instead, the provisions in the bill may be incorporated into other pieces of legislation, such as the next climate and infrastructure package (which could move through budget reconciliation this summer), a Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations package, and of course the 2023 Farm Bill, the primary vehicle for legislative changes to farm programs. The more support we can generate now, the better the chances it will be included in one of these packages!