A new bill sets a goal of net-zero emissions in the industry by 2040
By Diego Flammini
A member of Congress wants the federal government and the American ag industry to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, an organic farmer representing Maine’s 1st congressional district, introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act last month.
As part of a national effort to reduce climate change overall, “the goal for the agricultural sector in the United States shall be to achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in net greenhouse gases from 2010 levels by not later than 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by not later than 2040,” the bill states.
In 2010, the U.S. ag industry produced nearly 594 million metric tons (MMT) of greenhouse gas emissions, data from the Environmental Protection Agency says.
In 2017, the sector’s contributions had dropped to about 582 MMT of emissions.
Rep. Pingree’s bill aims to bring industry emissions down to about 297 MMT by 2030.
In addition to the greenhouse gas reduction goals, the bill would create a new soil health grant, protect existing farmland, increase research opportunities, fund on-farm energy initiatives and reduce food waste.
“We need to empower farmers with the best available science and provide a range of conservation tools, because what works for one farmer in Maine may not for another in Iowa or Georgia,” Rep. Pingree said in a statement. “Challenges of this scale demand bold solutions and, unlike other industries, agriculture has a unique opportunity to draw down massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil.”
Some industry organizations support the bill.
“The National Young Farmers Coalition commends Representative Pingree for introducing a bill to provide support for the many ways that farmers and ranchers can be a part of the solution to the climate crisis,” Sanaz Arjormand, federal policy director with the Coalition, said in a statement.
Similarly, representatives from the American Grassfed Association provided a positive response.
“This bill will support American family farms and farmers who are dedicated to returning resiliency to farming by using less extractive farming techniques and methods,” Carrie Balkcom, the executive director of the American Grassfed Association, said in a statement posted on Rep. Pingree’s website.
“To have dedicated funds and other resources from the USDA and other federal agencies will support these farmers and the rural economies they support, and allow these farms and communities to survive and thrive.”
Farms.com has reached out to the American Farm Bureau and individual farmers for comment on the bill.