Farmers Are Warming Up To The Fight Against Climate Change


Conservative farmers who have blocked climate legislation in the past, both groups are calling for policies to help farmers fight climate change through financial incentives, not regulation. NPR's Dan Charles has more It was 2009. When the American Farm Bureau Federation declared war on climate legislation, and Ana Unwra Cohen was a staffer in Congress. We were right in the thick of working on the first comprehensive climate build of passage Chamber of Congress, the law would have limited greenhouse emissions using a method called cap and trade. But the farm Bureau, a lobbying powerhouse, said the cap part would drive up costs and put farmers out of business. Don't cap our future, I think was their slogan, and they had those on caps. That people were wearing up on on Capitol Hill, and they succeeded. The legislation died this week. The head of the farm bureau, Zippy DeVol, struck a different tone. We're gonna have a real common sense science based discussion about how we protect the climate. And our farmers want to be part of that he was announcing a new food and agriculture climate alliance. It includes other farm groups. Also big environmental organizations like the Nature Conservancy, where people Elias is director of agriculture it feels like in the past. 18 months, The conversation has just really shifted. The shift is happening for a couple of reasons. Many food companies have promised to reduce their greenhouse emissions. And they're pushing for changes on the farm, sometimes paying for the changes. And Barb Glen, who CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, says it's partly just what farmers are experiencing everyone in this unique coalition. Understands and is witnessing the changing of the climate, and we all want to be involved In impacting this. The new alliance is proposing dozens of policy changes that encourage farmers to install equipment that captures methane, the powerful greenhouse gas from Cal manure or farm in a way that builds healthier carbon rich soil, actually removing carbon from the air. Farmers would get paid to do this, maybe by the government, maybe by private companies that want to offset or cancel out some of their own carbon emissions by paying for greenhouse gas reductions somewhere else. Some environmentalists who are not part of this alliance, like Jason Davidson at Friends of the Earth are dead set against some of those ideas. There's a heavy reliance on voluntary market based solutions. But those carbon offsets that farmers might sell just allow polluters somewhere to keep polluting, he says. Also, it could be hard to measure what some of these farming methods actually accomplish. MEREDITH Niles, specialist on farming and the environment of the University of Vermont, says scientists are working on that measurement problem. And the fact that farm groups are finally talking about reducing their own greenhouse emissions, she says, is a big step forward. A lot of farmers didn't want to speak about it because it might mean potential regulation. They're fine with incentives, though. And there are signs that the incoming Biden administration is thinking the same way. The leader of the Biden transition team for the U. S. Department of Agriculture recently called on the USDA to set up a so called carbon bank. It would pay farmers to fight climate change. Dan Charles NPR news 2020 has been ah lot and among the many things that

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