By Michele F. Mihaljevich
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indiana Farm Bureau (INFB) has joined the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA), created last year to develop and promote climate policy priorities in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors.
INFB is one of at least eight state farm bureau organizations to have joined FACA as of press time; the Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio farm bureaus are also members. FACA was founded in February 2020 by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), Environmental Defense Fund, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the National Farmers Union.
“We joined because it’s the right thing to do,” explained Bob White, INFB’s director of national government relations. “Regardless of how the (2020) election had gone, climate change was going to be an issue. We support voluntary, market- and incentive-based policies. If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Agriculture needs to be at the table. Agriculture is going to be a part of the solution.”
In November, FACA released a report with more than 40 recommendations to help guide climate policy in six areas: soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research and food loss and waste. FACA said last month the Biden administration and Congress requested additional guidance on how to achieve the goals outlined in the report. As a result, FACA is working to produce specific proposals on the carbon bank concept, tax credits and other incentives, and climate research.
An increase in federal investment in research is needed so those in agriculture are sure they’re doing the right things in order to sequester carbon, White said.
The federal government also has a role in helping to pay for practices producers are encouraged to implement on their farms, he stated. “At the end of the day, this is a societal benefit. Society needs to be willing to help us along. You don’t need to pay for it all, but you need to help us.
“Agriculture has done a great job. Some of these things – like no-till and minimum-till – they’re already doing and they need to get credit for that. Some people say agriculture is still not doing the job we think you should be doing. But there is not silver bullet. You can’t cure this overnight.”
Randy Kron, INFB president, said that being a member of FACA is one way the organization can protect its members against undo regulation. “By becoming a part of FACA, INFB can ensure its members that we will be at the table when climate change discussions take place to advocate that programs are voluntary, not regulatory,” he said in a statement. “Indiana is unique from a soil and climate perspective. We have three distinct climate zones – north, central and south. From a climate standpoint, what works in one part of the state may not work in the other two, let alone in nearby Illinois or Ohio, which is why it’s important that Indiana Farm Bureau is a part of all discussions and solutions. Farmers have always been great stewards of the land and as such are particularly qualified to help drive solutions. FACA is one way we can do that.”
FACA’s founding members first united around three simple principles, said Andrew T. Walmsley, AFBF’s director of congressional relations. In addition to market- and incentive-based policies, the group advocates for science-based outcomes and seeks to promote resilience and help rural economies better adapt to climate change.
“The overarching goal is to do no harm,” he stated. “Do no harm to farmers and ranchers. Do no harm to our rural communities. You’ll see in those recommendations, there are a lot of policy recommendations when it comes to farm bill programs, USDA. Also do no harm to those purposes and the programs that we count on today.”
To see FACA’s policy recommendations, visit www.agclimatealliance.com.