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State ag departments adopt climate policies

NASDA NASDA CEO Barb Glenn.jpg
State agriculture officials make commitment to reduce food waste at NASDA annual meeting

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture adopted a new climate resiliency policy at NASDA’s Annual Meeting. NASDA said it acknowledges the necessity to adapt to a changing climate in order to protect and enhance the nation’s natural resources while also building a resilient agricultural and food supply chain. In addition, it also adopted a new policy on food waste.

“We’re elevating our united voice on resiliency and climate-smart solutions. We must accelerate our work on supporting environmental stewardship within the agricultural and food industry,” NASDA chief executive officer Dr. Barb Glenn said. “Joined together as agricultural leaders with the authority and responsibility to cultivate positive change in their states, NASDA members can make a lasting impact for the nation’s environment.”

The new policy asserts that addressing climate resiliency in agriculture requires a comprehensive approach. NASDA encourages the collaboration of governments, corporations and philanthropic communities to develop incentive-based programs and pursue research that helps agriculture adapt to the effects of a changing climate.

A new NASDA partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund was announced, emphasizing the importance of additional and creative funding sources. The co-published report demonstrates success stories of state-led conservation programs funded through unique sources.

“In addition to establishing unique programs, incentive-based financing and assistance provides financial protection for farmers who take on risk when incorporating new on-farm practices into their business operations,” Glenn said.

California secretary of agriculture Karen Ross introduced the policy amendment.

“Recognizing and supporting the voluntary actions of the nation’s farmers and ranchers to protect and enhance land, water and other natural resources is critical as we continue to address a changing climate,” Ross said. “California is pleased to join and support NASDA in taking action at the federal level on climate-smart agriculture programs.”

Increased need for research on climate impact

As farm disasters increase in scope, Congress has been asked to consider increasing spending on agricultural research. 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) introduced legislation that would mandate a 5% budget increase for the next five years for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's four primary research agencies: the National Institute for Food & Agriculture, the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The America Grows Act has been embraced by a broad coalition of stakeholders, including farmers, scientists, educators, consumers, ecologists and veterinarians — 80 organizations in all.

Thomas Grumbly, president of the Supporters of Agricultural Research Foundation, said, "We have to spend billions every year to compensate farmers for damages from a wide variety of disasters, but the food that might have been grown is lost for good. Investing in the research that makes their operations more resilient, productive and efficient will improve farmers’ bottom line. We can’t solve today’s problems — or tomorrow’s — with yesterday’s innovations.”

Climate emergencies

Cities also made climate impacts a greater focus as well. On Monday, Malibu, Cal., became the latest U.S. city to declare a climate emergency, pushing the number of cities and jurisdictions worldwide past the 1,000 mark. Citing an increase of wildfires, drought conditions and sea level rise, council members Skylar Peak and Mikke Pierson together proposed an item declaring a climate emergency, requesting that the other cities in the Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Governments join Malibu in the declaration.

More than 1,000 governments in 19 countries across the world have declared a climate emergency, including New York City, the largest city in the U.S. to do so. In June, Los Angeles, Cal., voted to create a new Office of Climate Emergency Mobilization. This movement to declare a climate emergency and enact a plan against global warming has also gained steam in Congress, where legislation to declare a national emergency now has 66 co-sponsors in the House and seven in the Senate, including six of the seven senators running for President. 

Food waste policy

NASDA's new policy on food waste follows its “Pledge to End Food Waste” in April 2019 during Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month, a collaborative effort led by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food & Drug Administration and USDA. Commissioners, secretaries and directors will use their united voice through NASDA to reinforce the pledge, bring states’ agricultural perspectives to the issue and work with a diverse range of stakeholders to find solutions that address food waste. In addition, NASDA members will also emphasize the need to preserve natural resources, reduce agricultural inputs and continue to feed everyone.

“Wasting food wastes natural resources. Reducing food waste is an undeniably important issue for the food and agriculture industry. It’s estimated that 30-40% of food is lost throughout the supply chain,” Glenn said. “NASDA members are proud to amplify our pledge, team together all 50 states and four territories and work alongside local and federal partners to address food waste in our country.”

The new food waste policy states:

• NASDA supports public policies that offer opportunities to reduce, recover and recycle food waste.

• NASDA supports efforts to improve coordination and communication among federal, state and local stakeholders to use resources more efficiently and effectively to address food waste.

• NASDA supports the federal food waste hierarchy framework.

• NASDA supports research efforts and new technologies that address the reduction and/or recovery of food waste.

TAGS: Policy
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