Ag groups form coalition to advocate for farmers in climate debate
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and 20 other major ag organizations are teaming up to provide a voice for farmers in the climate debate by educating policymakers and the public about the positive contributions agriculture makes to the environment. During a press conference held today in Washington, D.C., leaders of partner organizations introduced the Farmers for a Sustainable Future (FSF) coalition.
AFBF and the coalition’s other organizations formed the coalition realizing that ag organizations must participate in climate discussions taking place and provide verifiable data that shows the climate-smart farming practices farmers and ranchers are already using on their farms. Public dialogue about climate often cites inaccurate statistics to portray agriculture as a large contributor to climate problems.
In addition to AFBF, FSF members include the American Pulse Association, American Sugar Alliance, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council of America, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Sunflower Association, Southern Peanut Farmers Association, United Egg Producers, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Dry Bean Council, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, and USA Rice.
The coalition will work to ensure that farm families maintain their ability to respond and adapt to climatic events without being burdened by mandates. The coalition supports: voluntary, incentive-based programs that enhance farmers’ profitability and production methods; the development of new technologies and practices rooted in science-based research; initiatives to maintain and improve infrastructure capacity to support farms, rural communities and ag businesses; market-based solutions led by farmers that recognize the diversity of ag practices, climates, challenges and resource needs.
The FSF coalition plans to highlight the many ways that farmers and ranchers help and protect the environment.
Combined, U.S. agriculture, land use and forestry removed 172 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from the atmosphere in 2017. More than 15% of all U.S. farmland is used for conservation and wildlife habitat efforts according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The more than 140 million acres of land U.S. farmers have enrolled in USDA conservation programs equals the total land area of California and New York.
Agriculture’s critics have talked a lot lately about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that agriculture generates. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, global agricultural GHG emissions are 24%, but over the last decade, all U.S. agricultural GHG emissions have only contributed an average of 9% of the total GHG in the U.S. Beef cattle contribute only 2% of agriculture’s total 9%, dairy cattle less than 1% and swine less than 0.3%.
From 2012 to 2017, farmers increased the number of acres on which they practice sustainable soil use and conservation efforts by 34 million acres. This included planting more cover crops, practicing no-till planting methods and using minimum tillage methods to conserve soil, preserve/increase soil nutrients and improve water quality. These practices also trap excess carbon in the soil and reduce GHG emissions.
Farmers also provide and use clean energy. In 2018, the use of ethanol and biodiesel reduced GHG emissions in an amount equivalent to taking 17 million cars off the road, according to the NASS. From 2012 to 2017, farmers began using 132% more renewable energy sources on their farms such as geothermal, solar panels, windmills, hydro systems and methane digesters.
Visit www.sustainablefarming.us to learn more about the coalition and the positive climate contributions agriculture makes.