With increasing extreme weather and shifts in growing seasons impeding crop production, the National Cotton Council has partnered with multiple groups to develop and promote shared climate policy priorities.
■ Who is in this coalition?
The NCC recently became a steering committee member of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance. Its organizations represent farmers, ranchers, forest owners, agribusinesses, manufacturers, the food and innovation sector, state governments, sportsmen and environmental advocates.
They are working together to develop and promote shared climate policy priorities across the entire agriculture, food and forestry value chains. FACA’s founding, steering committee and general members, along with other information, can be found at www.AgClimateAlliance.com.
■ What are FACA’s goals?
FACA’s original 40-plus recommendations, contained in a 50-page report at https://bit.ly/2Nya4TD that was released in November, are summarized:
◻ Providing voluntary, incentive-based tools for farmers, ranchers and forest owners to maximize the sequestration of carbon and the reduction of other greenhouse gas emissions, as well as increase the resilience of the land.
◻ Supporting the development and oversight of private sector markets for greenhouse gas credits.
◻ Promoting public and private sector tools to incentivize farmers, ranchers and forest owners to prioritize and scale climate-smart practices.
◻ Offering incentives for farmers to reduce energy consumption, increase use of on-farm renewable energy and make continued progress toward reducing the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of agriculture- and forestry-based renewable energy.
◻ Streamlining consumer-facing packaging and implementing a public-private partnership to reduce the greenhouse gas impact of food waste and loss within the food value chain.
◻ Increasing federal investment in agriculture, forestry and food-related research substantially and continuously.
FACA says the recommendations’ success will require buy-in from the highest levels of U.S. Department of Agriculture leadership and investment in rural broadband to ensure farmers, ranchers and rural communities have access to information, tools and markets.
Fortunately, the Biden Administration has expressed great interest in these recommendations and requested more guidance from FACA to help with implementation. In response, the alliance’s policy working groups are producing more detailed and specific proposals from the original 40-plus recommendations focusing on the carbon bank concept, tax credits/other incentives, as well as climate research. The NCC plans to remain active in this alliance and has staff serving on multiple FACA working groups.
■ Any other recent climate activity?
The NCC joined 15 other agricultural stakeholder groups on a “statement for the record” to the House Agriculture Committee’s climate change hearing held in early March. The statement noted that agricultural biotechnology needs to be part of any climate change discussion.
It cited work done in a USDA study in which the NCC participated that found improving animal and crop genetics is a primary driver of productivity. It also would be necessary to reach goals of increasing agricultural production by 40% while cutting agriculture’s footprint in half before 2050.
The statement conveyed the groups’ excitement about the potential environmental benefits and climate change mitigation via the continued development and adoption of new crop varieties improved with the help of innovative breeding methods that can produce more with less — less water, less land, less inputs.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.