WINDHAM, Maine — Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) unveiled a five-point plan to support farmers in the fight against climate change today at a press conference with Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry (DACF) Commissioner Amanda Beal as well as key environmental advocates and agriculture stakeholders. As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture as well as the House Agriculture Appropriations and Interior and Environment Subcommittees, Pingree is working in Congress to ensure farmers are included in the policy debate around mitigating climate change.
“Farmers are our allies in the fight against climate change. They have a critical role to play in reversing the effects of climate change by improving soil health and increasing the amount of carbon stored in the soil,” said Pingree. “New technology is helping farmers more easily measure and quantify the outcomes of conservation practices, but there are missing pieces in the infrastructure needed to make that a widespread reality. Any climate solutions must also make economic sense for farmers, so market and policy incentives will be important components.”
Pingree recommended the following five actions for government and farmers to work together in order to reverse the effects of climate change:
- Prioritize soil health initiatives
- Protect farmland and improve farm viability
- Support pasture-based livestock systems
- Invest in on-farm and rural energy initiatives
- Reduce food waste
Read Pingree’s detailed policy plan here.
Pingree held the press conference at Bumbleroot Organic Farm, which has benefitted from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs. Melissa Law, a co-owner of the farm, emphasized Pingree’s point that many farmers are already implementing climate-smart practices on their operations, but more government support is needed.
“The future of food in our country depends on the capacity of farmers to adapt in the face of climate change. As young farmers, we view this as one of the primary challenges we will face in the decades to come, and thus many of us are integrating regenerative practices that improve soil health and create more stable ecosystems on our farms,” said Melissa Law of Bumbleroot Farm. “We need continued support from local and federal programs to help us implement these practices so that we can build viable farm businesses and, in turn, sustainable food systems.”
Nathan L’Etoile of American Farmland Trust, Emmie Theberge of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Dave Herring of the Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment also spoke at the event.
“It’s critical that we work across all sectors to support farmers in their efforts to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Dave Herring of the Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment. “We have a real opportunity here to solve many interconnected challenges of food security, public health, farm viability, and climate change. It all starts with soil health and we’re so grateful to know that Congresswoman Pingree is thinking globally and acting locally on behalf of Maine farmers.”
“American Farmland Trust is pleased Congresswoman Pingree is a leader on climate change and the role agriculture and farmland conservation can play in solving it. She understands agriculture, she understands the threats to the planet—and she understands what farming can do to help,” said Nathan L’Etoile, New England Director for American Farmland Trust.“Our farms not only provide us with life-giving food—they provide wildlife habitat and irreplaceable biodiversity, plants and soil that naturally purify our water and air, and agricultural processes that capture carbon. Each of these is crucial to building more climate resilient communities and combating climate change.”
“The recent National Climate Assessment made it clear that unless we move to dramatically curb pollution, farmers in the Northeast will continue to get hit hard by climate change—experiencing longer, more frequent, and more intense heat waves, heavy rains, and droughts,” said Emmie Theberge, Federal Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine.“The good news is Maine’s farmers are ready to be a part of the solution and in doing so we can benefit our climate and our food system. We thank Congresswoman Pingree for being such a strong, unwavering voice for bold climate action and introducing these agriculture climate solutions today.”
Pingree has long advocated for agriculture’s role in the climate change discussion. As an organic farmer herself, Pingree has brought forth discussions on the individual farmer’s role in sustainability. Earlier this year, Pingree called for a hearing on sustainable agricultural practices through the House Appropriation Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. The hearing was held last week.
–The Office of Congresswoman Chellie Pingree
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