Georgia farmers are watching a bill that is being reintroduced in Congress for ways to help their farms become more sustainable and less likely to contribute to the warming climate. The Agriculture Resilience Act is making a comeback this year after languishing in Congress since 2019. Its goal is to make agriculture a ‘net-zero emissions’ industry by 2040. Farming now contributes about 8.5% of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions.
Lotanna Obodozie, Climate Campaign director with National Young Farmers Coalition, said her group hopes the bill gives farmers more access to the resources they need to increase sustainability.
“Farmers are experiencing a lot of barriers when trying to use or apply for USDA programs, and so I think that is a challenge that farmers could face,” she said.
Agriculture is a $70 billion part of Georgia’s economy. The bill focuses on assisting farmers in adopting eco-friendly practices, and would fund research into cutting-edge farming methods. The Agriculture Resilience Act has just been reintroduced. Previous bills had no co-sponsors from the Georgia delegation.
The legislation also includes measures to address social-justice issues in farming communities. It outlines ways to support minority-owned farms and promote equitable access to resources like land and water. Obodozie said this focus is needed to bridge gaps in agriculture across the nation.
“One thing that’s really important is just how can we make sure that these programs are accessible for all farmers – not just large farmers, but also small farmers, beginning farmers, farmers of color, and other historically disadvantaged farmers,” she said.
Some people have suggested adding this legislation to the 2023 Farm Bill, which Congress is scheduled to begin debating in September. In Georgia, over 42,000 farms span more than 10 million acres, according to the USDA.
This story was written by Shanteya Hudson, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.