Senate introduces bipartisan bill to help farmers, forestry, and reduce air pollution

A bill introduced in the Senate on Thursday will improve the agriculture and forestry sectors’ ability to reduce air pollution.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020, led by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sets nationwide standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish sustainable management practices.

“While farms and forests have been uniquely impacted by the climate crisis, they can also be an important part of the solution,” said U.S Senator Debbie Stabenow. “Our bipartisan bill is a win-win for farmers, our economy and our environment by providing new economic opportunities to store carbon while also addressing the climate crisis.”

The standards include planting cover crops, prescribed grazing, and reforestation as well as removing carbon from the atmosphere through natural processes like storing it in the soil, according to The National Audubon Society.

“Farmers, ranchers and foresters are too often unsung heroes in the fight against climate change,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society. “This bill will help to create a cleaner future for both people and birds, while also helping rural economies recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”

The bill points out three major roadblocks stopping farmers and foresters from earning income using climate-smart agriculture and forestry including how to navigate carbon credit markets, who to trust in the marketplace, and carbon credit professionals not having expertise in agriculture or forestry.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act would have the USDA publish a guide for farmers to get through the process, certify technical assistance providers, and certify third-party verifiers who can confirm carbon emissions were reduced or properly stored.

“The sustainable practices included in this bill will help protect and restore habitat for climate-threatened birds, such as the Wood Thrush, Cerulean Warbler, and American Woodcock that call Michigan home,” added Erin Rowan, Audubon Great Lakes Conservation Associate in Michigan.