March 28, 2023

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) reintroduced the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), comprehensive legislation that sets a bold vision of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. agriculture by the year 2040, today.

“Climate change is one of the most pressing issues for farmers and our food system, which is why we must prioritize climate-smart solutions in the next Farm Bill. Across the U.S., farmers are on the frontlines of the climate crisis – dealing with severe drought, flooding, wildfires, and other extreme weather conditions. Challenges of this scale demand bold solutions. Unlike other industries, agriculture is unique in that crops can draw down carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil,” said Pingree, a longtime farmer.  

“As my Agriculture Committee colleagues and I negotiate the next Farm Bill, I will be fighting to give farmers more resources to tackle the climate crisis,“My Agriculture Resilience Act aims to give farmers the tools they need to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. My landmark bill sets an ambitious but achievable goal: to reduce agricultural emissions 50% by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2040.”

To reach net-zero agricultural emissions within the next 20 years, the ARA focuses on six concrete policy areas and offers solutions rooted in science that are farmer-driven. These goals include:Increasing Research: The ARA would ensure existing agriculture research programs prioritize climate change research, increase funding for USDA’s Regional Climate Hubs, support public breed and cultivar research, and create a new SARE Agricultural and Food System Resilience Initiative for farmer and rancher research and demonstration grants.

“New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers’ livelihoods depend on the health of our land and water. They are also on the frontlines of the climate crisis and know all too well the effects that extreme weather events can have on their operations. Through regenerative agriculture and soil management, our producers can simultaneously make their land more resilient and play a large role in the fight against climate change,” said Heinrich. “I’m proud to partner with Congresswoman Pingree, an organic farmer of more than 40 years, to introduce the Agriculture Resilience Act, which sets a national goal of achieving net-zero emissions in agriculture by 2040 through farmer-led, science-based initiatives. This legislation will make ambitious investments to help our farmers and ranchers improve soil health, expand conservation programs, increase research into climate agricultural practices, and support on-farm renewable energy projects.”

Congresswoman Pingree’s bill, the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), aims to empower farmers with the incentives they need to stay in business, fight climate change, and help draw down carbon in the soil. With the right tools as outlined by Congresswoman Pingree’s bill, farming will be on a pathway towards net-zero U.S. agriculture emissions by 2040.

“Rain bombs, floods, heat stress, drought, and a multitude of other impacts have made it clear that the climate crisis is also a food and agriculture crisis. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s Agriculture Resilience Act rightly puts farmers at the center of a comprehensive plan to achieve net-zero emissions from the US agricultural system by 2040. This Act harnesses science and resources to advance regenerative farming practices in order to protect and enhance soil health while removing carbon from the atmosphere. By realizing the vision set forth in this bill, American farmers can continue to provide healthy food sustainably, while playing a leading role in solving the climate crisis,” said Former Vice President Al Gore.

Improving Soil Health:
The ARA would create a new soil health grant program for state and tribal governments, authorize USDA to offer performance-based crop insurance discounts for practices that reduce climate risk, expand the National Agroforestry Center by authorizing three additional regional centers, and provide more technical assistance and flexibility in USDA conservation programs to support climate-smart practices.

Protecting existing farmland and supporting farm viability:
ARA would increase funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program to help keep local farms profitable and create a new subprogram for farm viability and local climate resilience centers to help farmers reach new markets. The bill would also increase funding for the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program to make farmland affordable for the next generation. 

Supporting pasture-based livestock systems:
The ARA would create a new alternative manure management program to support an array of livestock methane management strategies and establish a new grant program to help small meat processors cover the costs associated with meeting federal inspection guidelines.

Boosting investments in on-farm energy initiatives: 
The ARA would increase funding for the Rural Energy for America Program to prioritize low-emissions electrification projects and direct USDA to study dual-use renewable energy and cropping or livestock systems.

Reducing food waste: The ARA would standardize food date labels to reduce consumer confusion about the shelf life of foods, create a new USDA program to reduce food waste in schools, and increase federal support for food waste research and outreach, composting, and anaerobic digestion food waste-to-energy projects.

“The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) is thrilled to see Representative Pingree champion this significant federal legislation. Directing federal funds to support climate resilience in the food and agricultural sector makes perfect sense, as this sector holds great potential for ensuring a clean environment and mitigating climate change, and because farmers bear the brunt of increasing shifts in climate. We strongly support the proposed changes to crop insurance and conservation compliance to promote soil health, increased support for agroforestry centers, and a concerted focus on carbon sequestration and GHG emission reduction in working lands conservation programs. Further, we applaud the bill’s provisions to reduce food waste because food waste is a major contributor to GHG, as well as a waste of natural resources and a drain on the national economy. Requiring surplus food donation by federal contractors, supporting states and Tribes in investing in composting and anaerobic digestion, providing grants for food waste reduction in schools, and helping consumers by clarifying the senseless date labels, all offer commonsense solutions to reduce the amount of food that needlessly goes to waste,” said Emily Broad Leib, Director, Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic.

Original cosponsors of the Agriculture Resilience Act are Representatives Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Natette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.), Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), Betty McCollum (D-M.N.) Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).Pingree has been an organic farmer since the 1970s and is a recognized national policy leader on sustainable food and farming. She was the 2017 recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award for her advocacy to make sustainable food more accessible to all Americans. In the spring of 2018, Pingree launched Congress’s first-ever Bipartisan Food Recovery Caucus and co-chairs the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition Climate and Agriculture Task Force. She is also a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agricultur