Climate Change Legislation

For Immediate Release
July 13, 2010

Martha Noble
P: 202-547-5754

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Urges Senate
to Enact Comprehensive Climate Change Legislation

Washington, D.C., July 13, 2010 – Today, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition joined 64 sustainable agriculture and environmental groups from around the nation on a letter delivered to Senate leaders (see letter below), urging them to pass comprehensive climate change and energy legislation in this session of Congress.

“Agriculture is especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of rapid and unpredictable global climate change,” said Martha Noble, a policy analyst at the Coalition. “Our farmers and ranchers will need federal resources, including conservation technical assistance and research, to cope with and adapt to regional climate changes.”

Passing comprehensive climate change and energy legislation this year is an essential first step in addressing the wide-ranging climate threats and opportunities facing U.S. agriculture. It must include measures to increase the use of sustainable and organic farming systems to increase the ability of our nation’s agricultural soils to sequester large amounts of carbon. These systems not only improve soil health and lower our overall contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, they can also help farmers adapt to and survive rapid changes in climate. Measures to boost on-farm energy conservation and promote renewable energy production, especially the use of wind and solar power, will allow farmers and ranchers to lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower their energy costs.

“An appropriate combination of comprehensive climate change and energy legislative measures can provide a win-win situation for farmers and ranchers,” said Noble. “Not only will it enable them to better deal with rapid climate change, it can also significantly improve the conservation and economic performance of their farms and ranches.”

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.

The Letter to the Senators:

July 13, 2010

Honorable Senators:
On behalf of our farmer, rancher and rural supporters, we the undersigned organizations urge you to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation in this session of Congress. Dependent on weather and the availability of natural resources, agriculture is uniquely vulnerable to climate change and farmers and ranchers will be among the first impacted by increases in unpredictable weather events, rising temperatures and shifts in rainfall.  The ability of farmers and ranchers to produce abundant crops and livestock is of course critical to our food security and the viability of our rural and urban communities.  It is of importance to all of us to pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill that supports sustainable agriculture and provides resources for farmers to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Not only will farmers and ranchers be among the first affected by a changing climate, but agriculture is also a key sector that has the ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing additional environmental benefits. Widespread agreement among the research community concludes that agriculture can help reduce human contributions to climate change and should play a role in effective mitigation and adaptation initiatives.

More specifically, sustainable farming systems can help us minimize emissions of greenhouse gasses and increase sequestration of soil carbon, thereby reducing GHGs in the atmosphere.

Farmers should be supported in moving towards climate‐friendly practices with the resources necessary to establish sustainable practices. Current research indicates that many sustainable and organic agriculture practices, such as using cover crops, leaving crop residue on fields, managed rotational grazing, and reducing or eliminating the use of synthetic fertilizers, can all contribute to reducing our nation’s GHG emissions.  By implementing innovative and sustainable farming practices we can reduce the heattrapping
gases emitted from farming and increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil on those farms.

We believe that a climate and energy bill should include support for the agricultural sector to move towards sustainable practices with scientifically proven climate benefits for both mitigation of emissions and adaptation of agriculture to changing conditions.  USDA conservation programs that provide research, technical assistance and financial incentives, for agriculture to address climate change mitigation and adaptation should also be supported.

We appreciate your consideration and urge you to work towards passage of a strong climate and energy bill, which will help protect farmers, and our food supply while moving agriculture towards a viable and sustainable future.