Farm Action Applauds Reintroduction of Climate Stewardship Act

Family Farm Action Alliance applauds today’s reintroduction of the Climate Stewardship Act in both chambers of Congress by Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Spanberger (D-VA). The Act, originally introduced in September 2019 by Senator Booker and former Representative and current Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, is reminiscent of FDR’s New Deal. Stacked with sweeping provisions centering voluntary incentives for conservation, renewable energy, and local food system programs, Family Farm Action Alliance is optimistic that if enacted, this legislation would offer both immediate and long-term relief to farmers struggling to navigate a brittle, consolidated food system in a changing climate. 

The Act’s introduction is part of a larger strategy: now that it has been introduced, its provisions can be included in Biden’s infrastructure package.

Family Farm Action Alliance President Joe Maxwell said: “The United States spends over 25 billion dollars a year in farm subsidies. The majority of these taxpayer dollars are going to prop up a failed industrial monoculture farm system that is simply not ecologically nor financially sustainable. It is time we invest in agriculture practices that benefit the farmer while contributing to climate change solutions. That is exactly what the Climate Stewardship Act does.”

The Farm Action team has worked closely with Senator Booker in formulating the original legislation which was filed in 2019. The reintroduced bill text contains important additions: namely the allocation of 5% of funds in most initiatives to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and new and beginning farmers. The policy provisions show commitment to the immediate action needed to protect our natural resources, mitigate climate change, and empower farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.

The Climate Stewardship Act will:

  • Plant billions of trees on a combination of federal, state, local, tribal, and non-governmental lands.

  • Plant over 100 million of these trees in urban neighborhoods across America, with the priority going to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. In addition to sequestering carbon, trees also absorb harmful air pollutants and reduce temperatures in urban areas.

  • Support voluntary climate stewardship practices on over 100 million acres of farmland, reducing or off setting agricultural emissions by one-third by 2025, by:

    • Providing tens of billions of dollars of supplemental funding for USDA working lands conservation programs, with new funding dedicated to stewardship practices such as rotational grazing, improved fertilizer efficiency, and planting tens of millions of new acres of cover crops.

    • Enrolling 40 million acres of environmentally sensitive land in the Conservation Reserve Program to remove that land from production and instead plant species that will improve environmental health and carbon sequestration.

    • More than doubling funding for agricultural research programs, including more funding for soil health demonstration trials.

    • Tripling USDA funding to provide farmers with expert technical assistance on climate stewardship practices.

    • Providing grant funding to tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and rural businesses for renewable energy production, such as solar panels and wind turbines, and energy efficiency improvements. 

  • Invest in local and regional food systems to increase resilience in rural and urban communities.

  • Restore or protect over 2 million acres of coastal wetlands by 2030 to sequester carbon emissions and reduce coastal flooding. Coastal wetlands act as an important sponge during extreme weather events with heavy rainfall. For example, although New Jersey has lost more than 40 percent of its coastal wetlands, the wetlands remaining helped prevent $625 million of property damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

  • Reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide youth with skills and work experience in forestry and wetlands restoration, prioritizing young people from low-income communities, indigenous communities, and communities of color.

Media Contact: Angela Huffman, ahuffman@farmactionalliance.org

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