In this file:
· Climate ag bill picks up steam
· Bacon, Spanberger to Introduce Growing Climate Solutions Act
· Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by AFBF President Zippy Duvall on The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020
· NFU: Carbon Markets Contribute to Financial and Environmental Sustainability of Family Farm Agriculture
· NPPC Supports Bill Helping Farmers Participate in Carbon Markets
· Methane from manure offers green fuel revenue for US farmers
Climate ag bill picks up steam
Ryan McCrimmon, POLITICO
The Senate Agriculture Committee didn’t let the ongoing pandemic stop it from holding a hearing Wednesday on a new bipartisan bill to bolster carbon markets, a concept increasingly backed by farm groups.
The committee discussed the bill, introduced by ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), while maintaining social distance through a new spaced out arrangement, with some lawmakers wearing masks and some beaming in via remote video. Two of the witnesses testified remotely. It was the committee’s first hearing since March.
The discussion was overwhelmingly positive, though several lawmakers reiterated that any carbon credit certification system should be centered around benefiting farmers, not large companies or others seeking to buy carbon offsets — and that such a program not inadvertently incentivize corporations to buy up farmland.
Steer clear of ‘greenwashing’: “What we don’t want … is the third party verifiers who are going to receive USDA certified labels, or the corporations that want to greenwash their businesses” to be the primary beneficiaries, said Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), as he questioned the panel. “How do we make sure that the benefit, the value actually goes to the farmers and not the middlemen or corporations?”
“I’m thrilled we’ve finally got a bipartisan effort,” said Fred Yoder, an Ohio farmer and co-chair of Solutions from the Land, a farmer-led group that works to get producers involved in tackling climate change and sustainable development goals. Yoder told MA this week that the recent movement in Congress is “remarkable.”
A companion bill is set to be introduced on Friday by House Ag members Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.).
Keep an eye out:
more, including links
Bacon, Spanberger to Introduce Growing Climate Solutions Act
BY Congressman Don Bacon, News Release
via KTIC (NE) - June 24, 2020
Washington, D.C. –Congressman Don Bacon (NE-R-02) joined Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (VA-D-07) to announce plans to introduce the Growing Climate Solutions Act in the House. Introduced in the Senate by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the bill seeks to help farmers, ranchers and foresters participate in the voluntary carbon market by establishing a Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Through the Certification Program, USDA will help connect landowners to private sector actors who can monetize their sustainable farming practices. This will allow private landowners the ability to generate purchasable carbon credits and increase their yearly revenues. Through the program, USDA will administer a new website, which will serve as a “one stop shop” of information and resources for producers and foresters who are interested in participating in this marketplace.
“Many of our nation’s farmers and foresters do not know how to implement projects or navigate the current carbon credit marketplace,” said Rep. Bacon. “As a strong supporter of our agriculture and environmental industries, I am pleased to lead this bill in the House and help reduce barriers for our agriculture sector. Nebraska farmers and ranchers take great pride in being good environmental stewards and this bill can help them monetize that"...
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by AFBF President Zippy Duvall on The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020
Oklahoma Farm Report
24 Jun 2020
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by AFBF President Zippy Duvall on The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020 Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow, and other members of the committee, I want to begin my testimony by thanking you for everything you’ve done to help America’s farmers and ranchers get through such a difficult time, with the market disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic coming on top of an already-distressed farm economy.
Keeping our farmers and ranchers in production is vital to our food security and our national security, as the members of this committee know. Thank you for supporting measures to assist farm businesses.
At the same time farmers and ranchers work hard to keep food on our plates, they continue to make great strides in sustainability-which brings me to the topic of today’s hearing.
I would like to provide just a snapshot of agriculture’s leadership in sustainable farming practices:
· American agriculture accounts for less than 10 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions-far less than transportation, electricity generation and other industry sectors.
· Total carbon sink efforts from forestland management, land converted to forests, grasslands, and management of wetlands more than offset agriculture’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
· Farmers continue to produce more food, fiber and energy with more efficiency than our parents and grandparents did. Over two generations, we’ve increased productivity 270 percent, without using more resources. In fact, we would have needed nearly 100 million MORE acres in 1990 to match 2018 production levels.
Our advancements in sustainability are due to adoption of technologies. And they are due to farmers’ overwhelming participation in voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs.
As we continue to navigate trade challenges and the economic impacts of COVID-19, America’s farmers and ranchers are facing difficult headwinds. Yet, we remain committed to SMART farming.
Whether our farms were passed on to us from our parents or whether we started them ourselves, our farms and our land are our heritage.
Every farmer I know wants to leave the land, air and water, as well as our farm and ranch businesses, in better condition than we found them.
To achieve that goal, Congress must protect agriculture from undue burdens and respect farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to innovate and solve problems.
And, we must work with Congress to explore new markets and new opportunities for agriculture...
Carbon Markets Contribute to Financial and Environmental Sustainability of Family Farm Agriculture
Larew Testifies Before Senate Ag on Growing Climate Solutions Act
Source: National Farmers Union (NFU)
Jun 24, 2020
WASHINGTON – As family farmers grapple with the dual crises of a global pandemic and climate change, carbon markets present a critical solution for both, according to National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew.
In testimony presented today to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Larew highlighted the many challenges the American agriculture industry is currently enduring. “Family farmers and ranchers face an uncertain economic future,” Larew said, citing low commodity prices and unstable export markets, both of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, farmers are holding record levels of debt and declaring bankruptcy at the highest rate since 1981.
Though the pandemic has “roiled domestic markets and exposed weaknesses in the food supply chain and farm safety net,” ultimately, it is a relatively short-term problem that will likely be resolved within the next several years. Climate change, on the other hand, “is the single greatest long-term challenge facing family farmers and ranchers, rural communities, and global food security.” Rising average temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, changing growing seasons, increasingly frequent and severe weather events, and rising sea levels are already making it more difficult to grow crops and raise livestock – difficulties that will only intensify over time.
But the United States isn’t helpless to address the climate crisis; there are ways to adapt to and mitigate climate change, and “farmers and ranchers, if provided the right tools, can be a key part of a solution,” as Larew told the committee. Primarily, they can “reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a meaningful scale” through land management practices that build soil health and sequester atmospheric carbon. Coincidentally, these practices also promote farmland’s resilience to drought and flooding. On top of that, farmers can “contribute to a clean energy future thorough the production of renewable energy and biofuels, which will be key in ensuring the United States’ long-term energy security.”
These efforts, though effective, often require a considerable temporal and monetary investment, as well as technical expertise and labor, all of which may be particularly onerous for farmers to take on as they cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic. That’s where carbon markets come in. By creating “a sustainable revenue stream for farmers as they work to sequester carbon,” carbon markets can contribute to both the financial and environmental sustainability of family farm agriculture.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act, which would create a certification program for technical service providers to work with farmers as they implement practices to sequester carbon and sell the credits, is an important move towards establishing such markets. NFU endorsed the bipartisan bill when it was introduced earlier this month. In today’s testimony, Larew reiterated his support, indicating that that bill is a “sound first step in developing strong bipartisan climate policy for America’s family farmers and ranchers.”
Larew suggested several additions to strengthen the bill, including mechanisms to prevent farm-level consolidation, robust funding for public climate research, and protections for farmers from bad actors or faulty market efforts. “NFU commits to working with the committee to ensure the Growing Climate Solutions Act adequately reflects the needs of family farmers and ranchers,” he said in conclusion. “I look forward to continuing this dialogue about the role of family farmers and ranchers in addressing the climate crisis.”
# # #
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.
Learn more about us at NFU.org.
NPPC Supports Bill Helping Farmers Participate in Carbon Markets
Source: National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)
Jun 24, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2020 – The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) strongly supports legislation being discussed during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing today that creates important elements needed to support a private carbon credit offset market. The bill would reward the valuable current and future contributions by pork producers and other sectors of agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act, introduced by Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create a program to provide transparency, legitimacy and informal endorsement of third-party verifiers and technical service providers that help private landowners generate carbon credits through a variety of agriculture and forestry related practices.
"U.S. pork producers, who have been at the forefront of environmental sustainability, are committed to the long-term protection of our country's natural resources," said NPPC President Howard "AV" Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. "Thanks to continuous on-farm improvements in nutrition, genetics and overall pig care, U.S. pork producers are doing more with less. This bipartisan effort will help give the private sector the standards and certifications needed to recognize and reward the important work being done by U.S. hog farmers to reduce our carbon footprint. We thank the senators for their leadership and look forward to passage of this important legislation."
According to recent Environmental Protection Agency findings, the production of U.S. pork is responsible for only 0.3% of all agriculture greenhouse gas emissions in the country. Likewise, according to a 2019 study by the National Pork Board, U.S. pork producers have used 75.9% less land, 25.1% less water and 7% less energy since 1960. This also has resulted in a 7.7% smaller carbon footprint. To learn more about pork's environmental efforts, click here.
# # #
NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America's 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.
Methane from manure offers green fuel revenue for US farmers
Biogas could help meet renewable energy targets but comes at a cost
Gregory Meyer, Financial Times
Jun 24, 2020
The rise of industrial-scale livestock farms in the US has put cheap meat on consumers’ plates, but it also has environmental costs. Among them are emissions of methane.
The powerful greenhouse gas forms when wet dung decomposes anaerobically in open slurry pits, a design feature of larger swine and dairy operations.
In the US, some farmers and utilities are trying new ways to capture the waste gas and convert it to fuel. “Renewable natural gas” builds on the established technology of biogas, further refining it for shipment on commercial pipelines.
RNG costs more than conventional natural gas, and there is far less supply. Yet it is attracting investment with the help of subsidies and incentives.
In North Carolina, home to 9.2m pigs, the OptimaBio company collects waste gas from custom-built manure digesters on five pig farms. Pipes send the gas to a centralised plant where it can be purified and pressurised for sale to Duke Energy, a utility. OptimaBio pays the farmers for the fuel.
“It’s a new agriculture revenue stream for those farmers beyond what they’ve traditionally realised in corn or beans or peanuts or pigs,” says Mark Maloney, OptimaBio’s chief executive.
Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, has since expanded on the concept. The Virginia-based company, a holding of WH Group of Hong Kong, has formed joint ventures to gather, process and sell methane from manure. One joint venture with the utility Dominion Energy plans to invest $500m in RNG by 2028, starting with projects in North Carolina, Virginia and Utah and exploring others in Arizona and California.
“Essentially what we’re doing is converting methane into carbon dioxide, which is a 25-to-1 net benefit for the climate. That’s transformational,” says Thomas Farrell, Dominion chief executive. (Methane has about 25 times the atmospheric warming power of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.)
Manure market ...
Going places ...
more, including links