August 31, 2021


US organisations call for reconciliation package prioritising climate-friendly farming



The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and 62 other farming, environmental and rural development organisations have sent a letter to the US Congress calling for a strong reconciliation package that prioritises climate-friendly farming.


NSAC's letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Debbie Stabenow and Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Robert Scott. It calls for a robust reconciliation package that advances climate-friendly agriculture, food systems and equity.


Along with NSAC, the group of signatories includes American Sustainable Business Council, Earth Justice, National Family Farm Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council and Rural Coalition, among other groups, who are urging US Congressional leaders to dramatically increase public investments in sustainable farming and farming communities.


Over the next month, the congress is writing a budget reconciliation bill proposing several trillion dollars in climate change and green infrastructure investments that could pass later this fall – and it includes approximately US$135 billion designated for food and agriculture.


"The time for transformative investments to help farmers address the climate crisis is now. This reconciliation package is a down payment on programmes that farmers need now to build more resilient food systems. Our organisations have come together to support this groundbreaking request," Eric Deeble, NSAC's policy director, said.


Acknowledging the United States Department of Agriculture's track record of marginalisation of small-scale farmers and discrimination against farmers of color, which leaves many on the brink of financial ruin, the letter underscores the need to remove barriers that these and other farmers face, through debt relief and other tools that address access to land and capital, regionally and culturally appropriate technical assistance, research and market development.


According to the letter, these farmers are often leaders in climate-friendly agriculture, innovators in regionally tailored farming practices and key providers of food for local communities. Consequently, it is critically important that this reconciliation package contains resources to stabilise the operations of these producers while creating opportunities for the next generation to become successful stewards of the land.


The group of signatories calls for a reconciliation package that directs significant funding to climate-friendly agriculture and resources for under-served producers.


The letter asks specifically for at a minimum:


- US$30 billion for conservation programmes with a focus on climate-friendly agricultural practices and systems that increase resilience to climate change, improve the health of workers, communities and soil, protect water and air quality, increase biodiversity and help store carbon in the soil;


- US$5 billion for sustainable and organic agriculture research programmes focused on climate resilience related research, education and extension programmes with strong dedicated support for 1890s and 1994 Land Grant Institutions;


- US$3 billion to support resilient rural development through investments in community-based infrastructure focused on value-added agriculture, rural renewable energy and infrastructure for local processing of crops and livestock to improve food system resilience and better support small and medium-scale farmers;


- US$10 billion for debt relief to stabilise the operations of producers who have not received a fair share of aid from recent federal support programmes.


In addition, the letter lays out a number of recommendations regarding the creation of a Civilian Conservation Corps that are foundational to building a sustainable and equitable future for rural and food producing communities.


"NSAC stands with its allies in requesting bold investments that will support the next generation of farmers, including beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers," Deeble said. "This bill could invest billions in renewable energy, on-farm conservation practices, climate and agriculture research, resilient food systems and much more.


"We recognise the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for the agricultural sector to be a central part of the solution. We urge Congress to finalise and pass the full reconciliation bill without delay or without diminished topline funding."


- The Cattle Site