More Ag Climate Solutions & Equity Needed in Reconciliation
NRDC and over 60 leading farming, environmental, and social justice organizations are calling on Congressional leaders to ramp up support for climate-friendly and equitable agriculture. Congress is drafting a once in a lifetime package of climate investments that would direct $135 billion to food and agriculture priorities, including conservation programs that help farmers and ranchers work in collaboration with nature, research to support food system resilience in a changing climate, nutrition programs to make sure no kid goes hungry, and debt relief and rural investments to stabilize our agricultural communities. Prioritizing sustainable farming and the needs of small-scale producers, workers, and farming communities will maximize the climate, health, and equity benefits of this package.
To support the truly diversified and climate-friendly approach to farming we need in the face of the climate crisis and to begin to remedy the deep inequities that plague our food system, Congress must commit to transformative support for organic and regenerative food systems and deliver overdue resources to small farms, including producers of color, who haven’t received a fair share of public investments.
U.S. farm policy has marginalized small-scale farmers and failed to redress widespread discrimination against farmers of color. Decades of underinvestment have left small-scale farmers—especially farmers of color—struggling for survival. Skyrocketing land prices and limited access to capital also make it extremely challenging for the next generation of farmers and farmworkers - many of whom are strong advocates of climate-friendly regenerative and organic farming - to start farms of their own.
That’s why NRDC, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, American Sustainable Business Council, Earthjustice, Farmworker Association of Florida, National Family Farm Coalition, and Rural Coalition, among other groups, sent a letter to leadership specifically calling for a reconciliation package that directs significant funding to climate-friendly agriculture and resources for underserved producers, by providing at least:
- $30 billion for conservation programs 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
- $5 billion for sustainable and organic agriculture research programs focused on climate resilience related research, education, and extension programs with strong dedicated support for 1890s and 1994 Land Grant Institutions
- $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
- $10 billion for debt relief to stabilize the operations of producers who have not received a fair share of aid from recent federal support programs.
The package should also guarantee socially disadvantaged producers the opportunity to participate in, and be key beneficiaries of, any program funded through the package, regardless of past participation and without cumbersome application requirements. These resources should support the next generation of farmers, including beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as farm workers desiring to enter farming as producers, and support them as they build on their knowledge of traditional ecological stewardship.
In addition, the package should fund an on-farm Civilian Conservation Corps program that:
- Trains the next generation of farmers to adopt climate-friendly practices, particularly in underserved regions;
- Creates job opportunities for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and farmworkers that pay a living wage and provide pathways to long-term employment;
- Protects farmer and farmworker health, safety, and economic stability;
- Increases biodiversity, restores critical wildlife habitat, and increases carbon sequestration on working lands;
- Promotes rural entrepreneurship and rural economic development; and
- Prioritizes environmental justice for frontline communities
While significantly more funding is needed in the future to support healthy ecosystems, underserved producers and workers, food security, and climate resilience, these investments would offer immediate and tangible public health and environmental benefits and keep our small farms alive.
The full list of signatories can be found below.
- Alabama State Association of Cooperatives
- Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
- American Indian Mothers Inc
- American Sustainable Business Council
- Appetite For Change
- Beyond Pesticides
- BioRegional Strategies (BRS)
- Black Farmers and Agriculturalists
- Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment
- Center for Biological Diversity
- Center for Food Safety
- Concerned Citizens of Tillery
- Cottage House Incorporation
- Detroit Food Policy Council
- Family Farm Action
- Farm Aid
- Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF)
- Fertile Ground LLC
- Friends of the Earth
- Green America - Center for Sustainability Solutions
- Hawaii Ulu Cooperative
- HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance
- Health Care Without Harm
- Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
- Intertribal Agriculture Council
- JSA Sustainable Wealth Management
- Just Food and Water
- Kansas Black Farmers Association
- League of Conservation Voters
- National Center for Appropriate Technology
- National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC)
- National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association
- National Organic Coalition
- National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
- National Young Farmers Coalition
- Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
- Naturepedic Organic Mattresses & Bedding
- Northeast Organic Farming Association-Interstate Council
- North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project
- Nourish Colorado
- Now You Know New Mexico
- Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, Inc.
- Organic & Non-GMO Report
- Organic Farmers Association
- Pesticide Action Network
- Rural Advancement Fund of the National Sharecroppers Fund, Inc.
- Rural Coalition
- Rural Development Leadership Network
- Scenic Hudson
- Sierra Club
- Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education, Inc.
- The Carbon Underground
- Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- World Farmers
- Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
- Zero Foodprint