Other Ag News:

Friday, September 20, 2019 - 9:29am

José (Tato) Roig’s farm has been producing coffee since 1978 and has become one of the most successful farms in Puerto Rico’s Coffee Zone. However, Hurricane Maria inflicted severe damage on his crops, as well as those of many other coffee growers.

Friday, September 20, 2019 - 9:00am
Chris Dixon, White Hall MD in cover crop field with corn stubble in spring. Photo credit: Edwin Remsberg.

This month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of $300 million in project funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in fiscal year (FY) 2019. RCPP, administered by USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), takes a cooperative approach to conservation activities with the private sector and local agencies working with NRCS to address watershed-based and other regional natural resource concerns.

RCPP is unique among NRCS conservation programs because farmers and ranchers generally learn about RCPP projects through partner entities (e.g., state or local governments, institutions of higher education, nongovernmental organizations, etc.), instead of directly by USDA, and then apply for financial assistance from NRCS through the project.

Applications from all 50 states and U.S. territories are eligible and must be submitted by December 3, 2019.

The 2018 Farm Bill provided $300 million in dedicated money for RCPP annually (up from $100 million in the previous Farm Bill) though total RCPP funding actually declined as Congress ended the practice of supplementing RCPP dollars with funding directly from the major farm bill conservation programs.

Half of the total funding is for projects applied for and approved at the state NRCS level, and the other half is for projects in eight Critical Conservation Areas (Great Lakes, Mississippi River, Chesapeake Bay, Columbia River, Colorado River, California Bay Delta, Prairie Grasslands, and Longleaf Pine Range) approved at the national level after state and regional review.

More information on the funding opportunity is available on NRCS’ RCPP page.

Farm Bill Complications

Substantive programmatic changes were made to RCPP in the 2018 Farm Bill, including the reauthorization of RCPP as its own standalone program. Consequently, a unique set of regulations must now be developed to inform how USDA will administer new components of RCPP. An interim final rule is expected to be released late 2019 or in the first half of 2020 that will include details on how the new program will be run. Upon release, NRCS will accept public comments on the rule.

The funding notice and request for applications released this month made clear that the Department’s hope is to get an interim final rule published in time to have applicants make any needed changes to their proposals to conform to the rules.

This is a very unusual process. Normally, a program of this magnitude does not start up until a final or interim final rule (IFR) is published and becomes operative. Prior to the 2018 Farm Bill, RCPP (and its predecessor programs from the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bill that had different names but were essentially the same program) did not require a rule because the program operated as an adjunct to the major underlying farm bill conservation programs. Now that it is its own stand alone program, that is no longer the case. While USDA could have waited for the IFR before soliciting proposals, the decision was made to move forward without a rule, and then circle back to the rule requirements before issuing any awards.

According to NRCS, final program policies, contracting, and agreement documents, and IT/administrative infrastructure will be finalized by the interim final rule. NRCS reports that the interim final rule will be ready no later than June 1, 2020.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is following several program details introduced or revised in the 2018 Farm Bill to assess how they will be dealt with in the IFR:

  • Conservation planning processes, conservation practice standards, and payment schedules, and the degree of flexibility granted to the individual projects.
  • The precise nature and size of technical assistance (TA) funding arrangements with the cooperative partners – up to 30 percent of project funding can be for TA, but a substantial portion of that amount can be split between NRCS and the partners.
  • The details on project evaluation and reporting required for conservation outcomes and optional for economic and social outcomes.
  • The new grant subprogram within RCPP that will, for the first time, allow private partners to directly deliver public financial assistance dollars to farmers and ranchers – a provision that NSAC opposed during farm bill deliberations and now will carefully evaluate to ensure there is strong public accountability and transparency.
RCPP Activity Types

RCPP projects may include any combination of the following types of conservation activities implemented by farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners:

  • Land management/land improvement/ restoration practices (e.g., EQIP, CSP, wetland restoration related activities)
  • Land rentals (e.g., CRP type activities)
  • Entity-held easements (e.g., farmland preservation)
  • United States-held easements (e.g., wetland restoration)
  • Public works/watersheds (e.g., small watershed flood control)

Land improvement / management / restoration activities will be offered based on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contracting model and the EQIP-CSP application and ranking system.

Land Rentals will be offered based on a combination of EQIP and Conservation Reserve Program models. NRCS will consider funding proposals where the lead partner proposes land activities that focus on short-term rentals as part of a larger RCPP project. Large scale, long term rentals will not be eligible.

Conservation Easements will retain some aspects of Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP) easements; however, the rule will make some changes that may be significant:

  • U.S.-Held Easements are expected to retain some elements of ACEP-WRE and HFRP, but will utilize new template deeds based on the level of restrictions of the easement. Landowners will be paid up to 100 percent of the easement value for a high level of landowner restriction, 75 percent for a moderate level of restriction, and up to 50 percent for a low level of restriction. In addition to wetlands and forestland, covered land may also include floodplains, grasslands, agricultural lands, and riparian areas. Partner matching funds may be used to complement NRCS funding and are encouraged.
  • Entity-Held Easements will also retain some elements of ACEP-ALE and will be expanded to include other land uses such as wetlands, floodplains, forest lands. Cost-share will be provided up to 50 percent with U.S. right of enforcement and up to 25 percent without. Partner matching funds will be required, and easement matching funds can be counted as partner contributions.

Public Works/watersheds projects carried out under the Small Watershed and Flood Prevention Program (Public Law 83-566) will be required to detail proposed public works / watershed activities that have demonstrable ties to the RCPP project. Up to 100 percent in financial assistance can be requested for flood control projects, while non-flood control projects must meet a minimum 35 percent matching requirement. These may be waived if projects will benefit communities where residents meet limited or socially disadvantaged criteria.

Eligibility and Enrollment

RCPP follows four guiding key principles: (1) impact – projects must solve natural resource challenges, (2) partner contributions address resource priorities, (3) innovation – new approaches or technologies are leveraged to deliver conservation solutions, and (4) partnerships and management – cooperative model helps NRCS to provide outreach and quantify environmental outcomes. Applications are ranked by their relevance to these key principles.

Applicants must also identify whether their projects will be within RCPP’s Critical Conservation Areas (CCA), and whether they will work in single or multiple states.

Along with working area, a lead partner must be identified for the application. Lead partners can include: an agricultural producer association, a state or tribe, farmer cooperative, municipal water district and wastewater treatment, a college or university, a conservation district, or an organization with an established history of working with producers as determined by NRCS. Lead partners will be responsible for collaborating and completing RCPP projects.

Review of applications takes place at the state level, is coordinated by the relevant states, and evaluated using specified criteria set by RCPP’s four key principles. NRCS requires any relevant permitting requirements to be included with applications. Successful applicants for FY 2019 funding can expect to begin projects in June 2020.

How to Apply

The application period for RCPP is open from September 3, 2019 through December 3, 2019. To apply, visit NRCS’ website. To learn more about RCPP, visit our Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs.

The post $300 Million Announced for Conservation Partnerships, New Rulemaking Pending appeared first on National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Friday, September 20, 2019 - 8:31am

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Reana Kovalcik
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
202-547-5754, rkovalcik@sustainableagriculture.net

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Urges Congress Not to Shortchange Farmers in FY 2020 Appropriations Bill

Washington, DC, September 20, 2019 – Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced their funding priorities for several spending bills (including agriculture) for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Disappointingly, the Senate bill completely ignores the struggles facing American family farmers by short-changing the vast majority of programs supporting sustainable agriculture. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), which represents over 130 farm and food organizations nationwide, issued the following comment in response:

“Farmers are struggling to stay afloat as they weather the uncertainty of a depressed agricultural economy, compounded with the recent onslaught of natural disasters,” said Juli Obudzinski, Interim Policy Director at NSAC. “Sadly, this Administration has further compounded farmers’ struggles by launching trade and tariff wars and throwing markets into a maelstrom of chaos. Congress must intercede on behalf of our nation’s family farmers and help bring our agricultural economy back onto solid footing.”

“Unfortunately, the appropriations package passed today by the Senate Appropriations Committee, falls far short of the intervention farmers need. The bill completely ignores the needs of sustainable, family-scale operations, and fails to fund new and promising programs – like the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) – that were created with strong, bipartisan support in the 2018 Farm Bill. For the first time in recent history, Senate Appropriators zeroed out all discretionary funding for the highly successful Value Added Producer Grant program (now housed under LAMP), which was created nearly two decades ago to help farmers weather economic downturns through new market development. The bill also short-changes agriculture research, making only modest increases in investments despite the fact that agriculture is long overdue for significant boosts to public R&D funding. For the nation’s only farmer-driven research program, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, we’re disappointed that the Senate bill simply maintains the status quo rather than provide the $8 million in additional funding that the House did.”

“While we applaud Senate appropriators for the bill’s few bright spots, chief among them the protection of mandatory conservation program funding, this bill doesn’t come close to offering the level of support warranted by the state of our farm economy. We therefore urge Congress to use the House FY 2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill as their goal post when finalizing spending for the upcoming fiscal year.”

Proposed funding for NSAC priority programs in the Senate Appropriations bill is as follows:

  • Local Agriculture Market Program 
    • Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program: $0 (discretionary)
    • Value Added Producer Grants: $0 (discretionary)
  • Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach: 
    • Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers (2501): $3 million (discretionary)
    • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program: $0 (discretionary)
  • Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education: $37 million
  • Food Safety Outreach Program: $8 million

“We are also extremely disappointed that the Senate bill gives the green light to USDA’s contentious relocation of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture by providing $25 million to fund the move,” said Obudzinski. “As the appropriations bills are conferenced, we urge appropriators to reject funding for this short-sighted relocation, and instead adopt the House bill’s language to prohibit USDA from selling its research agencies to the highest bidding city. NSAC calls on Congress to stand up for the hardworking researchers, scientists, and staff of USDA by including clear language blocking the Department’s efforts to relocate core research agencies outside of their home in the capital.”

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About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more and get involved at: http://sustainableagriculture.net

The post RELEASE: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Urges Congress Not to Shortchange Farmers in FY 2020 Appropriations Bill appeared first on National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Friday, September 20, 2019 - 8:00am

(Washington, D.C., September 20, 2019) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement highlighting actions announced by the Department of Labor (DOL) which will modernize the burdensome H2A visa process. First, DOL published a common-sense rule that eliminates the requirement to advertise a job opening in print newspapers instead shifting to advertising on the DOL and State Workforce Agency websites, which are further reaching and more cost effective.

Friday, September 20, 2019 - 12:00am
“The U.S. Farm Report” a syndicated television show focusing on agriculture and agribusiness, hosted by Tyne Morgan, will be filming at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus from 1:30-3 p.m. on Thursday (Sept. 26). Filming will take place on the lawn by the Agricultural Administration Building.
Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 2:50pm

Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of periodic blog posts on the happenings in each of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) regions, focusing on project solicitations and grant award announcements.

Over the last 30 years, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has funded more than 6,800 farmer-driven research and education initiatives through competitive grant awards totaling nearly $273 million. As the only farmer-driven, sustainable agriculture competitive research grant program offered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), SARE provides farmers and researchers with vital opportunities to better understand agricultural systems and to increase profitability and resilience. In addition to research, many SARE projects also address social and demographic challenges faced by farming communities, including challenges faced by minority and underserved farmers, access to land, challenges for young and beginning farmers, and rural quality of life.

SARE is administered through four regional councils of producers, researchers, educators, and government representatives. SARE regions include: North Central, Northeast, Southern, and Western. These regional councils are responsible for setting SARE policies and grant making processes. Because each of the SARE councils designs and administers their own regional grant programs, NSAC provides a periodic aggregation of funding opportunities and other activities from across the regions in our “SARE Roundup.”

Each of SARE’s four regional programs administers three primary grant programs: Research and Education (R&E), Professional Development Program (PDP), and Producer Grants. Some regions also offer additional grants for community innovation, graduate student research, agricultural professionals conducting on-farm research, and region-specific initiatives.

Read on for details about what is going on in your SARE region!

North Central SARE

Earlier this month, NC-SARE announced a call for pre-proposals for its 2020 Research and Education Grant Program and a call for proposals for three other grant programs: the 2020 Partnership Grant Program, the 2020 Farmer Rancher Grant Program, and the 2020 Youth Educator Grant Program.

The Research and Education Grant Program supports projects by collaborative teams of scientists, farmers/ranchers, institutions, organizations, and educators exploring sustainable agriculture through research or education. These projects explore and promote environmentally sound, profitable, and socially responsible food and/or fiber systems. All projects include a strong outreach component and significant involvement from farmers/ranchers or end users from inception to implementation. NC-SARE anticipates awarding $3 million to fund approximately 12 grant projects (pending FY 2020 Congressional appropriations). Awards range from $10,000 to $250,000. Projects may last up to 36 months or may opt to propose a long-term project (lasting more than 3 years).

The deadline for 2020 Research and Education Grant Program is October 10, 2019.

The Partnership Grant Program supports projects that foster cooperation between agriculture professionals and small groups of farmers and ranchers to catalyze on-farm research, demonstration, and education activities related to sustainable agriculture. NC-SARE anticipates awarding $560,000 to fund 14 projects this year, with each project receiving up to $40,000. Projects are funded for up to 24 months and typically involve three or more farmers or ranchers. University educators, including extension agents and specialists, NRCS field staff, agricultural consultants, and nonprofit or agency staff assisting farmers and ranchers at the local level can apply for this grant program.

The deadline for 2020 Partnership Grant Program is October 24, 2019.

The Youth Educator Grant Program is available to educators and supports projects by youth educators that encourage youth to try sustainable practices and explore sustainable agriculture as a viable career option. The program provides opportunities for youth, parents, and community members in the North Central Region to learn about farming and ranching that is ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible. NC-SARE allocated $40,000 for FY 2020 and grantees can receive up to $4,000 to carry out programming on sustainable agriculture for youth. Projects must be completed in 23 months. Grant recipients receive 75 percent of funding at the beginning of the project, and the remaining 25 percent of funds is reimbursed upon completion of the project.

The deadline for 2020 Youth Educator Grant Program is November 14, 2019.

The Farmer Rancher Grant Program supports projects by farmers and ranchers who want to explore innovative sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects. Farmer Rancher grants have funded projects addressing a variety of issues including pest/disease management, crop and livestock production, quality of life issues, marketing, soil quality, energy, and more. NC-SARE expects to award $720,000 for the 2020 Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Projects must be completed in 23 months, and award limits vary based on grant team size: individual grants can receive up to $9,000, team of two grants can receive up to $18,000, and group grants (3 or more farmers/ranchers) can receive up to $27,000.

The deadline for 2020 Farmer Rancher Grant Program is December 5, 2019.

For a list of NC-SARE grants funded in your region, check out these examples or search the SARE database!

Northeast SARE

NE-SARE will open its call for Farmer Grants proposals in mid-October 2019. Farmer Grants support commercial farmers who want to test a new idea using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, marketing initiative, or other technique. Working with a technical advisor, producers develop, refine, and demonstrate new sustainable techniques and explore innovative ideas that improve profits, better stewardship, and strengthen rural communities. Projects can receive up to $15,000 and projects can last up to two years.

The deadline for 2020 Farmer Grants will be December 3, 2019.

The Research and Education Grants Program supports projects that result in farmers gaining knowledge and skills they can apply to make verifiable changes that lead to greater sustainability. Projects can be submitted with or without an applied research component, but all projects must have an outcome-based education program for farmers. Projects may focus on environmental quality, financial viability, and social sustainability topics, including farm succession, equity, community connections, and farmer health and well-being.  Projects typically last two to three years. Pre-proposals are required for Research and Education projects, and they were due June 25, 2019. The next step in the grant process is for invited proposals to submit a full proposal.

The deadline for 2020 Research and Education Grants invited proposals is October 29, 2019.

The Research for Novel Approaches Grants Program funds projects that conduct applied research testing the feasibility of new practices and approaches that have high potential for adoption by farmers. Projects may explore practices related to production, marketing, business management, human resource management, farm family issues, or other topics relevant to sustainable agriculture. NE-SARE defines “novel approaches” as approaches that have some evidence of being beneficial but need more data before recommending the approach for farmer adoption. Projects last between two to three years. Pre-proposals are required for Research for Novel Approaches projects, and they were due June 25, 2019. The next step in the grant process is for invited proposals to submit a full proposal.

The deadline for 2020 Research for Novel Approaches Grants invited proposals is October 29, 2019.

The Professional Development Grants Program supports train-the-trainer projects that will help educators and agricultural service providers teach farmers about sustainable practices and approaches more effectively. Projects must be directed toward increasing the knowledge, skills and abilities of educators, and they last between two to three years. Agricultural service providers include Cooperative Extension agents, state department of agriculture personnel, crop consultants, veterinarians, farm advisors with private businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Pre-proposals are required for Professional Development projects, and they were due June 25, 2019. The next step in the grant process is for invited proposals to submit a full proposal.

The deadline for 2020 Professional Development Grants invited proposals is October 29, 2019.

NE-SARE’s remaining grant programs closed their calls for proposals earlier this year. The next round of funding for Graduate Student Grants and for Partnership Grants will be available in late winter 2020.

For a list of NE-SARE grants funded in your region, check out these examples or search the SARE database!

Southern SARE

S-SARE has announced a call for proposals for 2020 Producer Grants.

Producer Grants support farmers and ranchers in developing sustainable production and marketing practices. The goal of the program is for farmers and ranchers to conduct projects to solve challenges and problems they face and develop information on what works and doesn’t work so that others facing those same problems can benefit from the results of the funded project. Any farmers or ranchers and farmer/rancher organizations throughout the Southern region are eligible to apply, and the maximum funding amount for individual farmers/ranchers is $15,000 and $20,000 for farmer/rancher organizations. Projects may be funded for up to two years.

The deadline for Producer Grants is November 15, 2019.

For a list of S-SARE grants funded in your region, check out these examples in the SARE database!

Western SARE

W-SARE has announced a call for proposals for the 2020 Professional Development Grants Program, Farmer/Rancher Grants Program, Professional + Producer Grants Program, and Research to Grass Roots Grants Program.

The Professional Development Grants Program focuses on training agricultural professionals to help them spread knowledge about sustainable agriculture concepts and practices. Projects should increase agricultural professionals’ sustainable agriculture knowledge, skills and action, and they should have outreach plans demonstrating delivery of knowledge. Grants are limited to $75,000 and can run for up to three years, with the final year focusing on project evaluation.

The deadline for the 2020 Professional Development Grants is November 13, 2019.

The Farmer/Rancher Grants Program supports agricultural producers working with a technical advisor(s) in implementing projects addressing identified needs in sustainable agriculture and conducting outreach on the topic. Producers and technical advisor(s) must integrate research and education to conduct on-site/on-farm experiments to improve production, marketing, and the environment. Both research and education components must be distinct elements of the proposal. The goal of this program is to find ways to protect the environment, enhance farm income, and improve the quality of life for farming/ranching families, communities, and society as a whole. Farmer/Rancher projects are limited to $20,000 for one producer or to $25,000 for three or more producers, for up to three years.

The deadline for Farmer/Rancher Grants Program is November 11, 2019.

The Professional + Producer Grants Program supports one agricultural professional and five producers to conduct both research and education on a sustainable agriculture topic. Projects must integrate research and outreach aiming to advance environmental, economic, and social goals of sustainable agriculture, and use innovative outreach to disseminate new knowledge to producers and other agricultural stakeholders. The program is intended to benefit producers, increase the preservation of the natural and social resources upon which agriculture relies, and increase knowledge to be shared with other producers. Projects may last from one up to three years and be funded for up to $50,000.

The deadline for Professional + Producer Grants Program is November 13, 2019.

The Research to Grass Roots Grants Program support agricultural professionals, farmers, ranchers and others in the Western Region increase their understanding and proficiency in sustainable agriculture. These projects will take the research results from previously funded SARE projects and bring those results into the field through education to agricultural professionals and producers. Funding is capped at $75,000 per project.

The deadline for Research to Grass Roots Grants Program is November 20, 2019.

For a list of W-SARE grants funded in your region, check out these examples or search the SARE database!

SARE Application Process

SARE proposals must be submitted online via this portal. Once submitted, proposals are reviewed by a Technical Review Panel against the criteria outlined in the grant’s open call and in comparison with other submitted grant proposals. The SARE Administrative Council for the region – typically, a board of agricultural producers, scientists, educators and business leaders – then makes the final selections of projects to fund. The Council typically selects proposals diverse in subject matter and geography, and that demonstrate outcomes that farmers and ranchers in the region can successfully adopt.

SARE publishes a summary of funded projects by state. The portfolio summary breaks down funding by SARE project type and total funding per state since 1988, and the grant lists includes every grant awarded in the state by title.

Find out more about SARE projects in your state here.

SARE in Appropriations

SARE was one of NSAC’s first legislative accomplishments over 30 years ago and remains one of our coalition’s top funding priorities to this day. For Fiscal Year 2020, NSAC will be urging appropriators to increase funding for SARE grants to $45 million.

After more than 30 years of proven on-the-ground results, the program has yet to reach its authorized funding amount of $60 million. SARE research results are disseminated to farmers and adopted in their fields at a much faster pace than other federal programs. This funding would allow SARE’s farmer driven research to keep pace with the growing challenges related to the state of the rural economy, soil health, and competitiveness of American producers. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) remains a supporter of SARE and continues to advocate for growing the program’s research and funding capacity.

The post SARE Roundup: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Opportunities appeared first on National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 2:30pm

(Washington, D.C., September 19, 2019) – Today, all former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture since President Reagan’s Administration announced support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). In a letter to Congressional leaders, former Secretaries John Block (Reagan), Mike Espy (Clinton), Dan Glickman (Clinton), Ann Veneman (W. Bush), Mike Johanns (W. Bush), Ed Shafer (W. Bush), and Tom Vilsack (Obama) underscored the importance of passing USMCA saying, “We need a strong and reliable trade deal with our top two customers for U.S. agriculture products.

Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 12:00am
Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program released the annual Indiana Farm Fatality Summary with Historical Overview, coinciding with National Farm Safety and Health Week, which has been observed the third week of September since 1944. The program reported 34 work-related, on-farm deaths in the state in 2018.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 11:00am

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2019 – USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Bruce W. Lammers today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing almost $12 million in 41 community facilities projects that will benefit 214,000 Americans (PDF, 134 KB) in rural communities in 17 states.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 9:00am
White House. Photo credit: Reana Kovalcik

Fourteen months may seem like a long ways away, unless you’re talking campaign politics. A slew of Democratic challengers to President Trump, as well as a handful of Republicans, have already been making their case to the public for months. What makes this cycle particularly interesting for food and agriculture advocates is the attention that long-ignored subjects – like rural broadband, the farm economy, and climate change and agriculture – are finally getting. Of the farm, food, and environmental topics so far touched on in the debate, climate change and agriculture has received the most attention from both candidates and the public.

Although the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) takes no position on candidates or electoral politics, we do strongly believe that farmers have a central role to play in addressing the challenges of a changing climate.

COMMENT: Renewed Focus on Climate Change Presents Opportunities for Sustainable Agriculture

Producers across the country have suffered catastrophic damages to their crops, livestock, and homes in the last few years alone due to increased climate variability. Our nation’s producers are increasingly bearing the brunt of climate change and extreme weather, but they’re also leading the charge in adaptation and mitigation efforts. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers have a clear stake in discussions of climate change, and we urge all candidates to invite producers to the table as these debates continue.

While some of the Democratic contenders for the highest office have released more comprehensive climate change platforms than others, nearly all candidates are proposing some policy solutions focused on the role of agriculture in responding to climate change. Some candidates focus on existing programs, like the Conservation Stewardship Program, while others propose that new solutions are needed. Similarly, there’s been a slew of attention in Congress looking at these very same issues, including the Green New Deal and the recently introduced Climate Stewardship Act.

In this post, we summarize the climate change platforms of the candidates running for President across several areas: conservation, research, greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, crop insurance and subsidies, and local and regional food systems. This is not a comprehensive listing of every specific policy proposal, nor is it an endorsement of one platform over another. However, it is intended to shed some light on where each of the candidates stands on the issue of climate change as it relates specifically to agriculture and food systems.

This list is current as of the date of this posting, and candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Senator Michael Bennet (D) Conservation
  • Assist farmers with transitioning to voluntary practices that sequester carbon.
Research
  • Invest in early stage agricultural research through the creation of a new research agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) called ARPA – TERRA which would develop new technologies, sequester carbon and build economic opportunities for farmers and rural communities.
  • Establish a federal research budget for climate related research.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions and Renewable Energy
  • Grow and invest in the biofuels market.
  • Support financial incentives for farmers to invest in the production of zero-emission energy.
Local and Regional Foods
  • Provide incentives to create local and regional food systems (including food processing) that reduce the distance food travels, enable smaller producers to set their own prices, and encourage schools to purchase locally grown produce.
Other
  • Reduce food waste 75 percent by 2030.
  • Launch the 2030 Climate Challenge, calling on states to tackle the climate crisis in ways that meet the needs of state resources and population.

See additional policy platform details here.

Senator Joe Biden (D) Conservation
  • Expand the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in order to support the farm economy while still protecting the environment and sequestering carbon. Allow corporations and foundations to offset their emissions by contributing to CSP.
Research
  • Invest in research into cellulosic ethanol.
GHG Emissions and Renewable Energy
  • Pursue a goal to make U.S. farmers the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions.
  • Create new opportunities to support the deployment of methane digesters to capture potent climate emissions and generate electricity.

See additional policy platform details here.

Senator Cory Booker (D) Conservation
  • Increase mandatory funding for voluntary agricultural conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), and CSP by 2024. Direct new funding to practices that address climate mitigation and resilience.
  • Increase the number of acres enrolled into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to 40 million acres by 2030 to allow farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners to engage in “climate-smart” conservation practices.
  • Utilize EQIP to increase enrollment terms for contracts focused on climate mitigation practices like soil health, nutrient management, and grazing management practices, as well as increased EQIP Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to $200 million per year.
Research
  • Increase funding for agriculture research that reduces emissions, builds soil health, and sequesters carbon.
Local and Regional Foods
  • Assist farmers through the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) and Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network with additional funding to help coordinate regional food enterprises, value-chain coordination and educational and crisis outreach services.

See additional policy platform details here.

Governor Steve Bullock (D) Conservation
  • Leverage carbon-reducing cover crops to improve soil health.
Research
  • Direct USDA to revitalize federal research so that farmers and ranchers can cut costs, boost productivity, and protect and strengthen our shared natural resources.
GHG Emissions and Renewable Energy
  • Require each federal agency to have a plan to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Work with farmers and ranchers to develop biofuels, and further incentivize greenhouse gas reductions. 

See additional policy platform details here

Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) Conservation
  • Expand payments for EQIP and CSP so that farmers can maximize conservation activities (e.g., to build soil health). Reduce barriers that limit access to these programs.
Research
  • Invest $50 billion over 10 years in research focusing on soil health, food safety, natural resources, and plant and animal health. Focus increased research investments on reducing carbon emissions and technologies for monitoring and measuring soil carbon as part of carbon sequestration efforts.
GHG Emissions and Renewable Energy
  • Support policies, like the Renewable Fuel Standards, and incentives that reward innovations and best practices that promote biofuels and rural communities.
Other
  • Establish Resilience Hubs that provide regional climate data so that communities can manage risks with financial assistance from federal Resilient America Grants.

See additional policy platform details here.

Julian Castro (D) Conservation
  • Establish a $50 billion National Infrastructure Revolving Fund to restore wetlands and forests and improve soil quality, among other priorities.
  • Expand CRP and reform EQIP to support voluntary conversion of agricultural lands and improvements to farms to withstand the changing climate.
Other
  • Support environmental justice legislation that addresses the disproportionate impacts of climate change on communities of color.

See additional policy platform details here.

Mayor Bill De Blasio (D)
  • No climate or agriculture related campaign proposals available.
Representative John Delaney (D) GHG Emissions and Renewable Energy
  • Create “Challenge Grants” to spur innovations to help reduce emissions from agriculture.

See additional policy platform details here.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D) GHG Emissions and Renewable Energy
  • End subsidies to big fossil fuel and agribusiness corporations, ban offshore drilling, harness innovation to create jobs in renewable energy, provide better opportunities for farmers, and ensure every American has clean air and water.

See additional policy platform details here.

Senator Kamala Harris (D) Conservation
  • Help farmers to implement science-based agricultural conservation practices by 2040.
  • Build on current USDA programs to incentivize and assist farmers with implementing climate-smart practices.
Other
  • Provide farmers with the technical assistance and resources they need to reduce emissions and capture carbon, while continuing to produce enough for a growing global population.

See additional policy platform details here.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) Conservation
  • Expand farm bill conservation programs.
GHG Emissions and Renewable Energy
  • Provide new economic and environmental opportunities in rural America by making the “Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy” (EASE) Act law. EASE helps rural communities to overcome barriers to implementing renewable energy projects.
Other
  • Support strong environmental justice programs to help communities most affected by the degradation of natural resource and climate change.

See additional policy platform details here.

Mayor Wayne Messam (D)
  • No climate or agriculture related campaign proposals available.
Beto O’Rourke (D) Conservation
  • Invest in grants to farmers and ranchers for climate-related practices, such as improving soil management and the deployment of digesters.
  • Support conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity that accelerate net-zero emissions by leveraging “natural climate solutions.”
Crop Insurance and Subsidies
  • Expand the federal crop insurance program to offer more comprehensive risk management solutions.
GHG Emissions and Renewable Energy
  • Increase access to technologies and markets that allow farmers and ranchers to profit from the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

See additional policy platform details here.

Representative Tim Ryan (D) Crop Insurance and Subsidies
  • Shift subsidies from highly processed foods to more fruits, vegetables, and organic products.
  • Strengthen and expand safety nets for farmers, such as crop insurance.
Other
  • Support sustainable farming practices, including local and organic agriculture.

See additional policy platform details here and here.

Senator Bernie Sanders (D) Conservation
  • Invest $410 billion in ecologically regenerative and sustainable agriculture by paying farmers to improve soil health and sequester carbon.
  • Invest $24.8 billion to improve CSP, ACEP and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to help farmers increase and improve conservation practices on their farms.
  • Invest $500 million in CRP to help farmers transition to organic.
Research
  • Invest $1.48 billion in new research to develop regionally adaptive seeds and farming techniques in response to changing climates.
GHG Emissions and Renewable Energy
  • Commit to a $200 billion Green Climate Fund to support reducing global emissions and reassert the United States’ leadership in the global fight against climate change.
Local and Regional Foods
  • Incentivize schools to source more locally produced foods, invest $14.7 billion in co-operatively owned grocery stores, and bolster programs that help farmers process and get their produce to markets.
Other
  • Transition confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to ecologically regenerative practices.

See additional policy platform details here and here.

Mark Sanford (R)
  • No climate or agriculture related campaign proposals available.
Joe Sestak (D) Crop Insurance and Subsidies
  • Subsidize organic and regenerative farming.

See additional policy platform details here.

Tom Steyer (D) Research
  • Triple federal funding for climate science, including research for agriculture and soil health.

See additional policy platform details here.

President Donald Trump (R)   
  • No climate or agriculture related campaign proposals available.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) Conservation
  • Increase CSP payments from $1 billion to $15 billion.
  • Expand the types of conversation practices eligible for CSP payments and add a new farmer-based research and innovation component.
Research
  • Provide funding for farmer-led innovations to “decarbonize the agriculture sector, and invest in land-grant universities and agriculture research that does the same.
Local and Regional Foods
  • Increase LAMP’s funding to $500 million a year to support food hubs and rural communities.
Other
  • Hold agribusinesses accountable for the cost of environmental damage and close loopholes that allow CAFOs to skirt environmental laws.

See additional policy platform details here.

Joe Walsh (R)
  • No climate or agriculture related campaign proposals available.
Governor Bill Weld (R)
  • No climate or agriculture related campaign proposals available.
Marianne Williamson (D) Other
  • Sequester carbon through reforestation, improving soil quality on farms, and restoring wetlands and peatlands.
  • Promote sustainable agricultural and ranching practices.

See additional policy platform details here.

Andrew Yang (D) Crop Insurance and Subsidies
  • Increase subsidies by $75 billion over the next 15 years for farms that experiment with new, sustainable techniques.
Research
  • Invest $2 billion in research to advance vertical farming techniques.
  • Support drought-resistant crop research.
Other
  • Invest $285.5 billion in sustainable agricultural, forestry, and land use methods.
  • Incentivize supermarkets to reduce food waste and source local foods by providing $300 million in tax credits.

See additional policy platform details here.

Setting the Table for Climate Change Conversations

These climate change policy proposals are as varied as the candidates themselves. The boldest of the proposals, for example, recognize that increasing climate variability has the potential to eradicate coastal and rural communities’ way of life and call for decisive actions. Other widely-supported proposals include achieving net-zero emissions, decarbonizing the economy, rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, holding polluters accountable, and providing new green jobs through technology and innovation. Trillions of federal dollars would be targeted toward climate change mitigation and adaptation if the climate and agriculture policies proposed by the majority of the front-runner candidates were enacted.

NSAC is pleased to see that many of the current candidates are taking a hard look at climate disruption challenges and how agriculture fits into climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. There are many common agriculture-related themes emerging from the field including:

Although NSAC takes no position on candidates or electoral politics, we do firmly support efforts to reach out to farmers to work collaboratively on finding solutions to climate change-related challenges.

The post Presidential Candidates Give Air Time to Climate Change and Agriculture appeared first on National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

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