How climate change and conservation efforts impact the farm

Climate change is dominating talks in Washington, under the new administration. The House has held five hearings just this month, and it was the topic of the first Ag Committee hearing of the new Congress.

Pamela Knox, an ag climatologist, explained how the issue impacts farmers: “Average temperatures in the U.S. have gone up by almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 60 years. Higher temperatures mean longer growing seasons, more heat stress on livestock and outdoor workers, more time for diseases and pests to threaten crops, and a more unpredictable water cycle. It also means extreme events like heatwaves, droughts and floods that put farmers and foresters at risk by destroying crops and forests and flooding fields and pastures.”

Gabe Brown, a North Dakota farmer, shared his success with regenerative agriculture and called on the committee to reshape how conservation funds are spent.

“While more resources are needed, just increasing funding isn’t going to solve it. We need to put that funding into what actually regenerates landscapes,” he states. “We must make the adoption of regenerative ag available for all farmers from all backgrounds.”

More funding should also be directed to research and innovation, according to the American Farm Bureau.

“I am concerned if you look at the research dollars that we are investing in our country versus the rest of the world. I’m told that we’re running behind on that. We need more research dollars so that we can have the new technologies, and unite our hands. Give us a way to get the regulatory system streamlined so that these products can get to the field faster,” AFBF’s Zippy Duvall explains.

He also cautioned lawmakers to ensure farmers actually benefit from any new carbon market systems.

“Farmers are concerned, you start a carbon bank and then some company in between the farmer and the people that are buying the carbon credits makes all the money,” Duvall states. “What we need is something that generates some additional income at the farm level so that we can continue to do conservation practices.”

Duvall also pointed to the recently expanded Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance as a resource for lawmakers to continue seeking input from stakeholders.