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Daily News Blog

04
Nov

Tell the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to Promote Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2019) In recognition of the harm that climate change is causing to communities, the U.S. House of Representatives formed the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to “investigate, study, make findings, and develop recommendations on policies, strategies, and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis, which will honor our responsibility to be good stewards of the planet for future generations.”

Tell the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to promote organic agriculture and land care.

Regenerative organic agriculture reduces emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. In nonorganic, chemical-intensive agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions result from the use of nitrogen fertilizer, synthetic herbicides and insecticides, fossil fuel consumption associated with farm equipment, and the transportation of materials and products to and from the farm. The manufacture of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is a major source of energy use in chemical-intensive agriculture–the manufacture and use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers alone are responsible for as much as 10 percent of direct global agricultural emissions. This is important because pound-for-pound, nitrous oxide is 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide in warming the planet.

Besides reducing energy use, organic agriculture helps combat climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil. Organic agriculture also produces farms resilient to climate change because high soil organic matter content and mulching help to prevent nutrient and water loss. In addition, organic agriculture increases biodiversity, which is needed to meet the challenges of new insects, diseases, and weeds.

The same advantages accrue to other land management systems, such as city parks and playgrounds.

The Committee is seeking input in the form of responses to 13 questions by November 22. Among them are the following:

Cross-Cutting Policies Innovation (5a.) Where should Congress focus an innovation agenda for climate solutions? Please identify specific areas for federal investment and, where possible, recommend the scale of investment needed to achieve results in research, development and deployment.

Agriculture (6.) What policies should Congress adopt to reduce carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions and maximize carbon storage in agriculture? (7.) What policies should Congress adopt to help farmers, ranchers, and natural resource managers adapt to the impacts of climate change?

Oceans, Forestry and Public Lands (8.) How should Congress update the laws governing management of federal lands, forests, and oceans to accelerate climate adaptation, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maximize carbon storage?

Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases (9.) What policies should Congress adopt to reduce emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, including methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases?

Carbon Removal (10.) How can Congress accelerate development and deployment of carbon removal technology to help achieve negative emissions?

Resilience and Adaptation (11.) What policies should Congress adopt to help communities become more resilient in response to climate change?

In order to promote organic management systems, the following actions are needed:

  • Greater investment in research into organic production systems.One area that is particularly in need of research is organic no-till. Specifically, increase funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension (OREI) initiative to $50 million annually. We need to maintain, expand, and continually improve NRCS working lands programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program.
  • Greater investment into the development of seeds and breeds that are well-adapted to local conditions.
  • Expanding domestic organic production. Domestic demand for organic products exceeds domestic production. Organic producers face unique challenges and we need a comprehensive approachto increase production.
  • Support for farmers making the transition to organic production. Support for the Organic Transitions Program is extremely important. We need to keep organic farmers on the land to ensure that we maintain soil carbon sequestration capacity. Maintain USDA programs, such as the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program, to protect farmland from development.
  • Increased pasture-based livestock systems in agriculture research and marketing programs. Especially under intensive rotation and management, they can help increase carbon sequestration in the soil.
  • Help for on-farm and community renewable energy systems.Locally-based, farm- and community-scale renewable energy systems not only reduce carbon emissions, but create a more resilient energy infrastructure.
  • Removal of barriers to organic land management by local governments.It is essential to eliminate laws that preempt localities from regulating the use of pesticides.
  • Protecting the integrity of organic products, so that the market can work to incentivize organic production. This includes ensuring that USDA does not stand in the way of essential reforms supported by the organic community.

These same actions address our biodiversity crisis that is evidenced by crashes in insect and bird populations.

Tell the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to promote organic agriculture and land care.

Letter to the Select Committee

I wish to address several of the issues raised by the Committee for public comment, particularly questions 5a, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. The following actions are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect biodiversity, and increase resilience in the face of climate change.

  • Greater investment in research into organic production systems. One area that is particularly in need of research is organic no-till. Specifically, increase funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension (OREI) initiative to $50 million annually. We need to maintain, expand, and continually improve NRCS working lands programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program.
  • Greater investment into the development of seeds and breeds that are well-adapted to local conditions.
  • Expanding domestic organic production. Domestic demand for organic products exceeds domestic production. Organic producers face unique challenges and we need a comprehensive approach to increase production.
  • Support for farmers making the transition to organic production. Support for the Organic Transitions Program is extremely important. We need to keep organic farmers on the land to ensure that we maintain soil carbon sequestration capacity. Maintain USDA programs, such as the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program, to protect farmland from development.
  • Increased pasture-based livestock systems in agriculture research and marketing programs. Especially under intensive rotation and management, they can help increase carbon sequestration in the soil.
  • Help for on-farm and community renewable energy systems. Locally-based, farm- and community-scale renewable energy systems not only reduce carbon emissions, but create a more resilient energy infrastructure.
  • Removal of barriers to organic land management by local governments. It is essential to eliminate laws that preempt localities from regulating the use of pesticides.
  • Protecting the integrity of organic products, so that the market can work to incentivize organic production. This includes ensuring that USDA does not stand in the way of essential reforms supported by the organic community.

Thank you for considering these suggestions.

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One Response to “Tell the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to Promote Organic”

  1. 1
    Susan Wright Says:

    please let us all have organic food

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