A growing number of farmers are making the connection between more frequent, extreme weather events and the climate crisis.
Last year, OEFFA, as a member of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), began circulating a letter written by and for farmers: the Farmer and Rancher Letter on Climate Change and Agriculture. The letter expresses deep concerns about climate change impacts on U.S. agriculture and calls for solutions that invest in rural and agricultural communities.
As a result, more than 150 OEFFA farmers joined thousands more farmers from across the nation in a clarion call for investments in sustainable agriculture.
Agriculture is on the Front Line of the Climate Crisis
Agriculture is on the front lines of a changing climate with greater weather extremes, like flooding, drought, and heat waves, threatening workers, crops, and livestock. As temperatures continue to rise, new pest and disease pressures are impacting crop yields and quality. Farmers and ranchers are accustomed to adapting to change, but today’s weather extremes are unprecedented and threaten the future of farming.
Agriculture can be part of the solution to the climate crisis through increased investments in existing conservation practices and farm programs that make agriculture and rural communities more resilient. Good soil health practices like cover crops, crop rotation, improved grazing management, and reduced tillage can sequester much of the carbon contributing to climate change. These practices also help ensure farmers adapt to weather extremes by increasing the water holding capacity and water infiltration rates of the soil needed when there is a drought or flood. Sustainable and organic farmers reduce potent greenhouse gasses, like nitrous oxide, by reducing or eliminating the use of synthetic fertilizers.
Agricultural Resilience Act
Large-scale adoption of these practices will require significant investment to reduce the risk to producers as they shift to new climate-friendly practices. Technical assistance, financial incentives, and research are also key and are currently being advanced through H.R. 6851, the Agricultural Resilience Act (ARA).
The ARA offers a comprehensive set of farmer-driven solutions to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. agriculture by 2040 by setting a national goal and investing in research, soil health, farmland preservation, farm viability, pasture-based livestock, on -farm renewable energy, and reducing food loss and waste.
The only Ohio member of the U.S. House of Representative currently supporting the ARA is Congressman Tim Ryan (D-13). Contact OEFFA for information on your member of Congress and their position on this issue.
Farmers Share Stories with House Select Committee, Senator Brown
NSAC shared the Farmer and Rancher Letter on Climate Change and Agriculture to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on August 27. Signatories of the letter shared stories of how climate change affected their lives and spoke of their commitment to be part of the climate solution. They urged legislators to continue their work in Congress to support programs and increase conservation incentives to help others implement climate stewardship practices on their operations.
Following the delivery of the letter to these Congressional climate leaders, a handful of OEFFA farmers shared their climate concerns with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Chelsea Gandy and Jesse Rickard of Fox Hollow Farm, Mardy Townsend of Marshy Meadows Farm, Betsy Libby of Blackbird Meadows Farm, and Lauren Ketcham of Down the Road Farm joined OEFFA Policy Director, Amalie Lipstreu, Senator Brown, and two of his staffers, Jonathan McCracken and Ross Griffin, to talk about how climate is affecting their farm businesses.
While climate change may not be the term used by many farmers, the conversation made clear that most farmers in Ohio are experiencing extreme and damaging weather beyond the normal fluctuations faced over the decades. Even more pressing is the cost of these weather fluctuations on the farm business. Whether it is having one less cutting of hay, having to buy shorter season corn, or losing vegetable crops or livestock to extreme heat, these changes are real and affect the viability of farm businesses.
Be the Change
Thank you to our OEFFA farm leaders for speaking up to move our members of Congress to action on issues that affect farmers and food systems across the globe. If you are a farmer experiencing unprecedented weather impacts on your farm business, let us know. Even if you don’t farm, but feel this is an important issue, contact us today. We need your voice, more than ever.