Addressing Climate Change > Effective Environmental Policy Solutions > Environmental Policy Tracker
In late June 2009, the House of Representatives passed one of the most sweeping pieces of conservation legislation of the 21st Century. The landmark American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 provides an enhanced role for agriculture to play a key part in combating climate change. If enacted, the legislation will create new opportunities for American farmers and ranchers while dramatically improving the environment. See a full timeline of the climate bill.
Dr. Ann Sorensen director of American Farmland Trust’s Center for Agriculture in the Environment, and our California office are working with partners such as the Western Growers and the Natural Resources Defense Council to develop performance metrics for specialty crop producers. This will give growers a practical yardstick for measuring the effects of water and pesticide use and other production decisions, allowing them to reduce their environmental footprint and set the direction for agriculture to become even more sustainable.
Farm Bill Implementation
The USDA made a critical decision regarding calculations for the Average Crop Revenue Program (ACRE). The ruling now allows farmers to decide which safety net program they want to participate in during the life of the 2008 Farm Bill, and as they are making their planting decisions for the next growing season. “ACRE has two major benefits. It serves the real world needs of farmers better, and it makes better use of our tax dollars by helping farmers only when there’s a real need,” says Tim Recker, farmer and president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. One agricultural newspaper calls ACRE a “decision that beckons.”
In December, then USDA Secretary Ed Schaffer announced a new Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets. Established by the 2008 Farm Bill, the office will coordinate the efforts of all government agencies in creating markets that give farmers and ranchers the chance to sell the services they provide on their land—such as clean water, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat. “Creating markets for environmental benefits will result in enormous new opportunities for farmers and ranchers to improve the environment while expanding their sources of revenue,” said American Farmland Trust’s President, Jon Scholl.