Agriculture Resilience Act Helps Farmers Combat Climate Crisis Through Healthier Soil

Statement by Marcia DeLonge, Research Director, Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Apr 22, 2021

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2021)—Legislation introduced in the U.S. House and Senate today provides critically needed measures to ensure that U.S. farmers and their communities can adapt and thrive in the face of a changing climate. The Agriculture Resilience Act, introduced by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and 16 House co-sponsors, would set a national goal of achieving net-zero emissions in agriculture by 2040 and help farmers deal with damaging climate impacts they are already experiencing. Through dramatically increased investments in research and science-based initiatives, the bill would boost the health of long neglected farm soils improving their ability to buffer against extreme weather, keep drinking water clean and capture carbon.

Below is a statement by Marcia DeLonge, research director for the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Farmers and ranchers are being pummeled by the climate crisis. The risks of catastrophic losses from floods, droughts and other impacts are amplified for farmers who operate small and midsize farms and those who have been historically marginalized, such as Black farmers, Indigenous farmers and other farmers of color.

“This bill recognizes that a key to helping farmers survive and thrive for the long term is in the soil. Current farming practices have been eroding and degrading soil for decades, and climate change threatens to increase the rate at which farmers lose this precious resource.

“If passed, this bill will invest in farmers and their soil, enabling a greater shift to practices like cover cropping, which is currently used on less than 4 percent of U.S. cropland. All farmers need equitable access to programs that support implementation of such practices, which build healthier soil that stores carbon, protects clean water by reducing pollution from fertilizer runoff, and offers a buffer to floods and droughts alike.

“As Congress weighs critically important infrastructure legislation, the Agriculture Resilience Act offers policymakers an evidence-based, green infrastructure roadmap for agriculture, replete with the tools farmers need now to protect their livelihoods and safeguard our food system.”