Climate Change

Tell the USDA Investments in Organic and Regenerative Agriculture Will Help Address the Climate Crisis

Time is running out! Comments are due by Thursday, April 29!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now requesting input on agricultural solutions to climate change through this open docket.

We know that organic and regenerative farmers use the kind of holistic, systems-based practices necessary to limit greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions, sequester carbon, and mitigate the damaging effects of increasingly severe weather. Certified organic agriculture has a 20-year track record as the only USDA-accredited, voluntary, system-based approach to ecological agriculture that has soil health at its foundation and limits outside inputs that contribute to GhG emissions.

As sustainable farmers and organic advocates, this is our opportunity to support organic and regenerative agriculture solutions to the climate crisis, share their benefits, and shape the USDA’s climate agenda for years to come.

Specifically, the USDA is seeking your input on these two important questions:

1. What can the USDA do now with existing programs to encourage voluntary adoption of farming practices that sequester carbon, reduce GhG emissions, and ensure resiliency to climate change and what can be done with new resources and strategies?

Suggested Talking Points

The management practices associated with organic agriculture focus on soil building techniques and reducing the need for off-farm inputs which are a persistent emitter of nitrous oxide, a long-lived GhG. Long-term studies demonstrate that organically managed soils have increased water holding capacity and better water infiltration, which are also key adaptations necessary for farmers to survive and thrive in the years ahead.

The USDA can address this crisis by:

  • Providing increased investment in Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation programs that, with a focus on reduction of GhG, carbon sequestration, and climate mitigation, will help organic and regenerative farmers to significantly amplify their practices and support conventional farmers looking to improve their stewardship and be part of the solution;
  • Elevating and promoting organic management systems as a premier approach to address climate change and create a plan for significant increases in organic research at the Agricultural Research Service and National Institute for Food and Agriculture;
  • Abandoning the policy that it cannot extol the benefits of organic management for fear of offending conventional agriculture and instead promote the good work that is being done by organic producers across the country;
  • Creating a new Conservation Reserve Program agroforestry initiative to encourage transition to perennial production;
  • Offering insurance premium subsidies for the adoption of climate-smart regenerative agricultural practices; and
  • Increasing the minimum payment for participation in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CS) and rewrite the CSP rule to emphasize and encourage the holistic systems of practices that work synergistically to address climate and ecological health.

2. How can the USDA ensure that the funding, programs, and outreach effectively reach and equitably serve all landowners, producers, and communities?

Suggested Talking Points

The USDA can improve access by:

  • Identifying and engaging communities of color at all stages of the USDA process;
  • Engaging diverse farm groups in gathering input and enlist them in disseminating information and resources; and
  • Cross-training USDA agency staff to be able to speak to programs within other agencies and to connect these communities, landowners, and farmers with the USDA staff who can address their needs.

The USDA needs to hear your voice. Please take a few minutes to submit brief comments to the Federal Register today and help create a more sustainable agricultural agenda for the future.

Writing effective comments only takes a few minutes! Here are some tips:
  • Put suggested talking points in your own words. Unique comments stand out.
  • Share related personal experience, if any. Personal stories make comments more impactful.
  • The best comments are brief and to the point. Bullet points can be a useful way of conveying information at a glance.

Read OEFFA’s comments to the USDA, submitted April, 27, 2021.