In action on Monday, July 6, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) introduced the Future of Agricultural Resiliency and Modernization (FARM) Act, which would help farmers across the country to more effectively fight climate change. The bill would establish two new climate-focused initiatives to support the efforts of farmers on the ground. The first would provide over $2.5 billion in funding to help farmers reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increase carbon sequestration, improve air, water and soil quality, and convert agriculture byproducts to efficient uses. The second would establish a first-of-its-kind Pyrolysis grant program to help tree nut farmers convert byproducts into climate-friendly biocarbon products.
“Farmers are always treated like the enemy when it comes to climate change – and that’s just not how it works. Farmers are some of the first to feel the effects of climate change, and I’ve heard from dozens of them in the Valley who want to be a part of the solution,” said Rep. Harder. “This bill is backed by leading agriculture and environmental groups, which you don’t see every day. This is an opportunity for all of us to start working together to solve this shared problem.”
The bill establishes two new programs designed to help farmers fight climate change.
The FARM Fund – This program creates a brand-new fund worth $2.5 billion to help farmers fight climate change on the ground. The fund will help farmers adopt new technology and practices to cut emissions, increase sequestration of carbon, improve air, water and soil health, and invest in lower emission equipment.
Cutting-Edge Pyrolysis Program – This new program would set aside $10 million to support 10 pilot programs across the country which convert tree nut by-products into biocarbon products that can be reused.
The bill is supported by leading environmental and agriculture groups, including the Almond Alliance of California, the National Milk Producers Federation, the League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Defense Fund, and Citizens Climate Lobby.
“Dairy farmers are active environmental stewards who continue to seek new approaches to innovation. Nutrient recovery technologies and digesters play a critical role in the ongoing efforts undertaken by farmers to care for the air and water resources around them,” said Jim Mulhern, President & CEO, National Milk Producers Federation. “We commend Rep. Harder for putting forward the FARM Act to facilitate additional funding and use of these important systems and other valuable advancements. His leadership will help dairy farmers in California and nationwide as the dairy sector moves forward with major proactive environmental efforts.”
“With the release this week of the House’s Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America, it is clear that we will need an aggressive, comprehensive approach to solving the climate crisis that recognizes the real impacts the crisis is having on people,” said Madeleine Foote, Deputy Legislative Director for the League of Conservation Voters. “Rep. Harder’s FARM Act does just that by acknowledging the immediate impacts being felt by farmers, farm workers, and the agricultural sector and the role they must play in helping to tackle climate change. We greatly appreciate Rep. Harder’s leadership in working to provide farmers with the tools they need to reduce contributions to climate change while also improving soil health and air and water quality. We look forward to working together with Rep. Harder and the bill’s cosponsors to move this legislation forward and ensure a healthy and safe climate for all communities.”
“California’s almond community has committed to achieve zero waste in our orchards by putting everything we grow to its highest and best use,” said Elaine Trevino, Almond Alliance of California. “Almond harvest co-products hold huge potential as an input to advanced technologies like pyrolysis. We see a future where almond harvest by-products are the source of sustainably produced biochar and even California Grown advanced fuels for a variety of non-traditional uses. We appreciate Congressman Harder for working with us to make these goals a reality through the FARM Act.”
“By making significant investments in on-farm climate resilience projects, the FARM Act would be a big win for farmers and the environment,” said Callie Eideberg, Director of Government Relations at Environmental Defense Fund. “We thank Rep. Harder for introducing it, and are excited by yet another indicator of growing congressional momentum for agricultural climate solutions.”
“The 1.2 billion tons per year of biomass waste in the U.S. is a largely unused natural renewable resource,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman/CEO Aemetis, Inc. “Orchard waste wood and other crop waste are excellent local feedstocks that can produce low cost, low carbon, renewable fuels to reduce dependence on imported crude oil while creating domestic jobs and attracting investment into rural areas. It is important that we continue to look for innovative ways to increase these practices, and Rep. Harder’s FARM Act will help spur those initiatives.”
“Climate change threatens our water, our wealth, our contentment, and our health. For too long the Central Valley – and our strong agricultural sector – has taken a back seat to state and national climate policy,” said the Modesto Chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. “The Modesto chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby thanks Rep. Harder for his leadership and foresight in introducing the FARM Act – and its common-sense agriculture approach toward emissions reduction and adaptation to a changing climate. It’s essential to provide farmers financial incentives for these climate-smart practices and to promote agriculture as a key player in our nation’s climate solutions. We applaud Rep. Harder’s efforts.”
Harder is a leader in efforts to support the agriculture sector’s participation in efforts to fight climate change. Recently, he announced that the final plan released by the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis features nearly all of the provisions he fought to include.