Agriculture makes up nearly $1 trillion of the US economy, and our natural lands are a natural treasure. Both also are impacted by climate change, can be a driver of climate change, and need to be a part of the solution to the climate crisis we’re facing. Local climates are changing, natural disasters – especially floods, droughts, and wildfires – are becoming more frequent, and our soil is becoming depleted.
The government needs to ensure that farms that experiment with new, more sustainable techniques have the money they need to test these techniques and still be protected in case it decreases yields. We also need to invest in alternatives to traditional farming, such as vertical farming techniques. And we need to research drought-resistant crops, along with other types of crops that can withstand the challenges of climate change. The federal government can also work with states to determine what crops are most sustainable in their areas, and track changes as climate change shifts the local climate.
The federal government has given nearly $400 billion in farming subsidies since 1995. Subsidies help protect our food supply from “bad years” of extreme and unpredictable weather. Adjusting our agricultural system to adapt with climate change is a good example of why farming subsidies were created in the first place. A portion of planned farming subsidies over the next 15 years should be redirected specifically toward sustainable techniques and exploration of alternative farming methods.
To make better use of our land, the Department of Agriculture should investigate the best grazing and livestock land management techniques, and provide reports to states and private enterprises on them. We need to identify land where we can plant more trees, and also take an active hand and expend the resources needed to rejuvenate our high-carbon ecosystems, such as peatlands, wetlands, rangelands, and mangroves.
We can also decrease the stress on our farmlands by decreasing food waste. Supermarkets can receive tax incentives to waste less food. This can be done through encouraging the donation of food. It can also be done by encouraging better inventory management – instead of overstocking, supermarkets can be encouraged to understock, with differences being made up through tax credits. They should also be sourcing more local foods, and incentives can be made to label all produce with where it’s from.
Finally, we need to make better use of organic waste, both from livestock and from trash. Biogas – a type of biofuel that is generated by the decomposition of organic material – can generate a large amount of electricity from what would otherwise be a giant source of methane and carbon dioxide. The EESI estimates that we can add over 10,000 new biogas systems, which would generate electricity, reduce emissions, and save municipalities a lot of money on both transporting waste and maintaining landfills.
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Problems to be Solved
- Climate change is going to negatively impact our lands and our food source.
- Many current farming practices emit methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
We need the government to work together with private enterprises to be better stewards for our land, to ensure that we can continue to feed our people with nutritious food.
- Develop sustainable farming techniques
- Use farming subsidies to assist our agricultural system to adapt to climate change
As President, I will...
- Provide grants and guarantee profitability for farms that experiment with new, sustainable techniques.
- Increase farm bill subsidies by $75 billion over the next 15 years for farms that experiment with new, sustainable techniques.
- Invest $2 billion in research for vertical farming techniques.
- Direct the Department of Agriculture to provide reports to states and private enterprises to help them improve their grazing and livestock land management.
- Work with states to determine sustainable crops for their areas, and suggest changes as climate change continues to advance.
- Increase funding to biogas programs by tripling the current annual mandatory funding for biogas to $200 million.
- Authorize a $500 million increase to federal agencies tasked with maintaining land to increase afforestation while rejuvenating high-carbon ecosystems such as peatlands, wetlands, rangelands, and mangroves.
- Invest in research for drought-resistant crops.
- Provide $300 million in tax credits to incentivize supermarkets to waste less food, either through donations or inventory management changes, and to source more local food.