OPINION

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Support Growing Climate Solutions Act

Letter to the Editor

This is not the time of year we normally focus on our area farmers. The grapes are harvested (except maybe for some ice wine), corn and soybeans have been combined, hay fields are dormant, vegetables have been picked and we see some corn stubble and low brown chopped up vegetation in the soybean fields. But for the farmers growing cover crops, this is the time of year that they are patiently following the growth of their cover crops like winter wheat, rye or radishes, and planning their plantings for next spring. That corn stubble and growing cover are providing nutrients to micro-organisms living in the soil which are, in turn, releasing and sequestering carbon. So too are the grass around the fields, the hedgerows dotting the countryside and the wood lots bordering some of the fields. Unfortunately, cover crops are grown on only 7% of cropland in New York State (USDA Agricultural Census). The most common barriers to adoption are cost of planting a crop that you don’t sell and inadequate technical assistance to interested farmers.

There is a bill called the Growing Climate Solutions Act that passed the Senate by a 92 to 8 vote on June 24, 2021 and is awaiting a vote in the House that would give the farms and woodlands in our area a chance for compensation for their efforts to sequester carbon. The bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act (H.R. 2820 117th Congress 2021-2022 https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2820/text?r=82&s=1) creates a new certification program at the US Department of Agriculture to help solve technical entry barriers for farmer and forest landowner participation in carbon credit markets. While agriculture is a sizable contributor to U.S. emissions, the agriculture and forestry sectors can provide a critical climate solution as more and more farmers are farming in ways that sink significant carbon in the soil. This is good not only for the climate but also for soil health, and for making farms more resilient to significant weather events like drought, excessive rainfall and excessive heat. However, making this transition is expensive. For example, planting seeds in a field covered with corn stubble requires a different planter than that used for planting in a plowed field.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act would help farmers get paid for climate-resilient practices. It would legitimize a carbon credit system and increase landowner participation — by increasing transparency, and by providing third-party carbon-credit verification via the USDA.

Let’s give Rep. Tom Reed our support and encouragement to endorse and vote for the Growing Climate Solutions Act when it comes up for a vote in the House. This in turn will help support our local farmers.

Alice Shoemaker, Starkey

Florence Swartz, retired USDA economist, Skaneateles

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letter writers are responsible for making sure the information they submit is accurate and factual.