BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — One of the toughest challenges facing agriculture has remained the same over generations – inclement weather, variability and climate. The ongoing climate policy discussion is one that Illinois farmers intend to stay engaged in as solutions are developed.
To continue this engagement, Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) responded to USDA’s request for public comment on tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad. Submitted comments are intended to contribute to the broad spectrum of stakeholder input USDA will need to develop and implement additional climate-oriented programs and solutions.
“Illinois Farm Bureau welcomes the opportunity to provide suggestions on how Illinois farmers can deliver long-term climate solutions,” said IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. “Illinois farmers have demonstrated a desire to engage in the climate debate and want to make sure practical solutions are created that ultimately benefit Illinois farmers and our environment.”
In 2019, IFB voting delegates enacted new policy surrounding global climate change. The new policy set parameters around how the membership engages in conversations pertaining to climate change.
In addition to IFB policy, which addresses each of the issues raised in USDA’s request for comments, IFB also solicited feedback from its members to the open-ended questions posed by USDA. In doing so, IFB received approximately 1,000 individual responses from more than 200 members. Those farmer responses and their suggestions heavily influenced IFB’s comments to USDA.
“We are grateful to our members for their thoughtful input,” said Guebert. “Their feedback and ideas helped us keep our comments focused on what farmers need as discussions evolve and policies are crafted that will likely impact our members’ livelihood.”
IFB members suggested USDA:
- Streamline, provide transparency and increase funding for established popular programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which are USDA programs that reward farmers who adopt climate-smart farming practices.
- Simplify administration of CSP and CRP.
- Consider compensation related to crop insurance to attract higher participation levels.
In addition, Illinois Farm Bureau members across the state share a variety of concerns about incentive-based carbon markets.
- When it comes to USDA support of these emerging markets, IFB members would like to see transparency and consistency throughout the carbon market arena.
- USDA can support the industry by providing rules and a framework for the process to operate and oversee the valuation of the carbon credits.
- Incentives must be tied to the land.
- Early adopters of climate-smart agriculture practices should be treated fairly and recognized with benefits like those who are adopting new practices.
- Many Illinois farmers have concerns with the details of the contractual agreements, including concepts regarding data collection and stewardship, contract length, valuation of carbon and limitations on future participation.
IFB welcomed the opportunity to work alongside USDA and other stakeholders to find solutions to these issues.
“Not all carbon contracts treat farm practices the same, so the establishment of standards and definitions would be helpful to ensure a level playing field for both producers and those who purchase carbon credits to offset their carbon emissions,” Guebert said.
For further information on how IFB is supporting the important conservation efforts of our farmer members, please visit http://www.ilfb.org/resources/learn-about-il-agriculture/protecting-natural-resources/.
— Illinois Farm Bureau
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