COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio farmers are all too familiar with the impact of climate change, and a new report highlights the urgent need to help growers and producers build resilient operations.
According to the findings from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
, the U.S. agricultural production sector has increased its greenhouse gas emissions over the past few decades.
And the report says improved soil health and resource conservation practices can reduce or even neutralize farming's carbon footprint.
Amalie Lipstreu, policy director for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
, explains that agricultural systems need to adapt to a rapid and unpredictable climate, noting that just this year nearly half of Ohio's counties received a disaster designation.
"We had excessive rains and tornadoes that had a huge impact on Ohio growers this spring," Lipstreu states. "At the end of June, only half of the state's corn was planted and just over 30% of soybeans were sown on average."
The report puts forward nearly 30 detailed public policy recommendations that support a transition to a resilient agri-food production system based on sustainable and organic practices.
Specifically, the report calls for the USDA to better support U.S. agriculture in climate friendly practices that can improve soil health.
Other recommendations include the support of on-farm energy conservation and low-carbon renewable energy production.
Lipstreu cautions that inaction will result in devastating consequences for people, agriculture and the environment.
"The climate crisis is a really serious threat to our food security, the viability of farmers and ranchers and our environment," she stresses. "Action on the recommendations in this report will facilitate the shift to a more sustainable agriculture system to address this challenges head on."
Lipstreu adds that sometimes policies are inadvertently put in place that actually erect barriers for farmers interested in adopting more sustainable practices.
"We need to recalibrate the policies in place so that we're effectively providing the support and incentives needed to help farmers transition to sustainable agriculture systems that will help mitigate these greenhouse gases but also help them be more resilient," she states.
The research will be shared with the USDA and congressional leaders, including the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which recently held its first hearing on climate change and agriculture.
Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.