Washington, DC — 222 farmer, farmworker, environmental justice, climate, environmental, faith-based, animal welfare, and other groups today wrote to members of Congress to urge them to oppose to the Growing Climate Solutions Act (S. 3894/H.R. 7393). The bill requires the Department of Agriculture to assist agricultural entities to participate in carbon markets by certifying third-party verifiers. Credits generated will be purchased by power plants, refineries, and other polluters, which will use them to offset their emissions instead of reducing and eliminating pollution.
The groups wrote:
“While agriculture and land management can play key roles in addressing the warming climate, this legislation will allow greenhouse gas emissions to continue unchecked and will undermine efforts to build a healthy, sustainable, and resilient food system. Instead of continuing the legacy of pollution through carbon markets, we encourage policies that eliminate pollution at the source and support local food economies, better living wages for farmers and farmworkers, and pathways for sustainable practices of food and energy production. Ecologically regenerative farming should be incentivized in addition to, and not instead of, carbon reductions in the energy sector.”
Carbon markets fail to reduce emissions overall and exacerbate pollution hot-spots in low-wealth communities and communities of color, the groups said. Power plants and industrial polluters, disproportionately located in these communities, purchase credits that allow them to continue burning toxic fossil fuels releasing harmful pollutants that compromise local health and well-being.
“Not only do these carbon markets fail to reduce emissions overall, they serve to exacerbate pollution hot-spots in low-wealth communities and communities of color,” said Shakara Tyler of the Black Dirt Farm Collective. “Power plants and industrial polluters, disproportionately located in these communities, simply purchase credits that allow them to continue burning fossil fuels and releasing harmful pollutants.”
“Even though an attempt to confront climate change is sorely needed, this ‘Growing Climate Solutions Act’ is a false solution. The idea of providing technical assistance to farmers is a problem, especially as family farmers know that some of the root causes to our climate crisis lies in overproduction and planting commodity crops ‘fence row to fence row,’” said Anthony Pahnke, Vice President of Family Farm Defenders. “Carbon markets, principally with offsets, allow large-scale producers and corporations the chance to continue environmentally harmful practices in one place as they pretend to care for the planet in another. We don’t need more manure digesters on factory farms and green deserts full of tree monocultures. We need more small-scale, diversified farms. We need farm policy that guarantees dignified salaries so families can stay farming instead of having to work off-farm to make ends meet.”
“The misguided Growing Climate Solutions Act will allow corporations to indulge in more fracking and other forms of fossil fuel pollution, while creating a stream of bogus carbon reduction ‘credits’ that will benefit industrial agriculture and factory farming. Rather than promoting feel good policies that merely perpetuate the status quo, we need bold action from Congress that will create real climate solutions that promote sustainable agriculture and an end to fossil fuels,” said Mitch Jones, Policy Director of Food & Water Action.
“Instead of promoting a failed approach that won’t help farmers or the climate, we should support policies that ensure a just transition to ecologically regenerative agriculture,” said Jason Davidson, Food and Agriculture Campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “We must focus on improving existing successful programs that won’t exacerbate pollution hotspots, harm communities of color and hand over even more of our food system to the largest agribusinesses.”
The letter and its full list of signers can be found here.