Sustainable farmers work to provide food that is nourished by healthy soils and natural inputs, they sequester carbon in the soil, and depend upon healthy and well-functioning ecological systems. And while organic and sustainable farmers are more resilient in adapting to weather extremes, they are not immune from the increasing weather fluctuations that threaten their livelihoods. There are a number of actions OEFFA members can take to ensure that farmers are able the thrive into the future.
- Support renewable energy and research into alternative energy sources
- Support a sustainable system for energy generation and storage. Many farmers have been negatively impacted by high-pressure hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on their land or lost productive land to pipeline right of ways, and the impacts of climate change affect us all.
- Help sustainable and organic farmers improve and support all farmers making the transition to sustainable agriculture
The science is clear. Some agricultural practices destroy soil carbon through the use of synthetic inputs created from petrochemical sources and which generate nitrous oxide, a dangerous and persistent greenhouse gas. Large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and their waste pools are a major source of methane and other greenhouse emissions.
Yet, our farmers are a critical part of the solution to the climate crisis. The practices used by organic farmers is shown to improve soil health and improve both water holding capacity and infiltration. Interest in this voluntary, market-based option is growing across the country and yet support for producers in transition remains almost non-existent within state and federal agriculture agencies and land grant universities.
We can provide resources to help farmers be more sustainable by creating transition to organic mentorship programs and providing large-scale training and dedication of Extension staff on organic management systems. We can also pay farmers for implementing sustainable practices that will help us create a more resilient food and agriculture system by sequestering carbon. Management intensive rotational grazing is an important tool to help livestock producers sequester carbon and raise healthy animals without questionable environmental and animal welfare practices.
- Support on-farm energy conservation and low-carbon renewable energy production
Farmers want to be good stewards and by providing them with more tools like those in the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) they can get the resources needed to install wind and solar energy sources, make energy efficiency upgrades, and much more.
- Create public plant and animal breeding for climate-resilient agriculture
With an ever-changing climate, our food security and the viability of farmers may be largely dependent upon the availability of regionally adapted plant and animal breeds suited to the climate and weather variations. If heavy spring rains mean that organic farmers cannot plant longer season corn, they need access to organic seed that will mature with a shorter growing season and do so without synthetic inputs.
If you are faced with energy infrastructure projects that threaten your farm, there are tools and resources that can help. OEFFA has a free technical assistance service for organic farmers navigating pipeline easements and other energy impacts. Contact OEFFA for assistance and let us know if you are interested in learning more about how you can help with the growing climate crisis.