Food And Agriculture Alliance To Fight Climate Change Gains Momentum

In an effort to assist the Biden administration’s effort to combat climate change, an alliance between organizations which have butted heads in the past is forming. The Food and Agriculture Alliance (FACA), a mix of agriculture and environmental organizations, have now ballooned to 42 members.

FACA consists of entities representing farmers, ranchers, forest owners, the food sector, state governments and environmental advocates which work together to define and promote climate policy priorities. The Biden administration and Congress have expressed interested in FACA’s recommendations and will be working with the organizations on how to achieve their proposed climate change goals. In response, the alliance’s policy working groups are producing more detailed and specific proposals focusing on the carbon bank concept, tax credits and other incentives, as well as climate research.

In November, FACA released more than 40 recommendations, though many were only beginning to come to shape with no implementation details. Now, however, the alliance’s leaders are producing more structured proposals.

“We are encouraged that leaders in both the House and Senate are requesting more detailed guidance to achieve FACA’s climate goals and recommendations,” said American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall in a statement. “It’s important that any new climate policies respect the people who will be impacted the most – farmers and ranchers. FACA’s 40-plus proposals demonstrate farmers and ranchers must be treated as partners as we work together to build on the impressive advances already achieved toward climate-smart farming.”

The group is working on developing a set of policy recommendations for federal lawmakers in six specific areas: soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research and food loss and waste.

The agricultural and forestry climate policy requirements must be built upon voluntary, incentive-based programs and market-driven opportunities, promote resilience and adaptation in rural communities and must be science-based.

Climate change has had a significant impact on agriculture the past few decades and is giving the groups — which have differed in the past on a number of issues — a chance to come together for a mutual benefit.

In 2019, Columbia University posted an article warning that agriculture was on a tipping point. Geoffrey Heal, an environmental economist in the Columbia Business School, said that although agriculture makes up a fairly small part of the nation’s total economy, “locally these effects could be big. There are about a dozen states in the Midwest that are very dependent on agriculture and they could take quite a big hit.”

According to the school, extreme rainfall events have increased 37% in the Midwest in the past 70 years.

A 2015 study showed that, at the global level, the climate change will cause an agricultural productivity decrease (between −2% and −15% by 2050), a food price increase (between 1.3% and 56%) and an expansion of cultivated area (between 1% and 4%) by 2050.

A 2011 National Academy of Sciences report concluded that for every degree Celsius the global thermostat rises, there will be a 5 – 15% decrease in overall crop production. This would have an extreme impact on commodity crops such as corn, soybean, wheat, rice, cotton and oats which do not grow well above certain temperatures.

A study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that damage in agriculture may reach the annual loss of 0.3% of future total gross domestic product at the end of the century globally, assuming further opening of trade in agricultural products.

“For any incentive program to be meaningful, it has to be simple, transparent and provide tangible immediate benefits,” Produce Marketing Association’s Max Teplitski, chief science officer, said in a news release. “PMA sees it as our responsibility to ensure just that, in collaboration with environmental groups, trade associations and non-profits, we will help drive the conversation on how to make these incentives meaningful.” 

FACA, which was formed last year, had four original members: the AFBF, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Environmental Defense Fund and National Farmers Union. Not long after the original alliance, four new members joined including the Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of the State Departments of Agriculture and the Nature Conservancy.

After the recent growth the past week, new steering committee members also includes the American Seed Trade Association, American Sugar Alliance, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, Ducks Unlimited, Farm Credit Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Milk Producers Federation, PMA and USA Rice Federation.

A hearing is set Thursday in the House Agriculture Committee on climate change.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanstrickler/2021/02/23/food-and-agriculture-climate-alliance-momentum-gains-traction/