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Where does agriculture stand amid global climate actions?

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2023 | Agricultural Law

The way we look at agriculture in climate policies is changing. In the past, agriculture’s focus was on adapting to climate change, dealing with extreme weather and shifting growing seasons.

However, there is a new focus on making agriculture a part of the solution by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This shift towards mitigation reflects a broader global strategy to combat climate change effectively.

How does this shift affect farmers?

Turning agriculture into a means of reducing emissions can pose challenges for farmers. Here is why:

  • Costs and investment: Implementing practices that reduce emissions often requires investments in new technologies or changes in farming methods. These changes can be costly, and not all farmers may have the financial resources to make these investments.
  • Administrative burden: Getting involved in carbon markets means dealing with much paperwork. Farmers may need to verify, quantify and report reductions. Doing this can be time-consuming and may require specialized knowledge.
  • Land use changes: Some emission reduction strategies may involve altering land use. This can affect a farm’s productivity. It may also require additional resources.
  • Market volatility: Carbon credit prices can fluctuate. When it does, it can affect the income farmers earn. This can introduce financial instability for those relying on carbon credit revenue.
  • Policy uncertainty: Farmers might not be sure if government policies on carbon markets and emission reductions will stay the same. Policy changes can make it hard to plan and make decisions.

Furthermore, farmers must balance the need to reduce emissions with their primary goal of producing food and other agricultural products.

What support can farmers get?

Changing agriculture’s role has important legal and policy consequences. Governments and global organizations are creating new rules and policies to show how farming can actively cut emissions. These actions cover everything from better farming methods to using sustainable technologies.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report on the role of agriculture and forestry in carbon markets. It aims to help farmers and forest owners join efforts against climate change. The USDA is working to boost farmer participation and ensure solid science supports the climate benefits they get. They have invested $300 million to improve emissions measurement and monitoring. The next step is to establish a program to assist producers in carbon markets.

As agriculture takes on a more proactive role in reducing its environmental impact, this shift in perspective carries legal and policy implications that will shape how agriculture operates in the years to come. With all these changes, seeking legal counsel can help ensure farmers can address these challenges to ensure a smoother transition.