NMPF Shares Climate and Sustainability Priorities with Agriculture Committees
April 5, 2021
With Congress poised to take legislative action on climate policy this year, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have begun their work by holding hearings to examine the important environmental stewardship work already being done by farmers and ranchers, including dairy producers, as well as the potential policy changes that could provide additional incentives to producers to undertake further steps.
NMPF submitted written testimony to the House and Senate Agriculture committees detailing the dairy industry’s proactive sustainability work, focusing on the Net Zero Initiative and a suite of voluntary policy recommendations intended to bring the industry’s efforts to fruition. The comments come as the panels begin hearings examining environmental stewardship work already being done in agriculture as well as incentives that could spur producers to take additional steps, potentially to be included as part of Congressional action on climate policy this year. The House Agriculture Committee held its hearing on February 25, followed by the Senate on March 11.
NMPF noted in its testimony that U.S. dairy farmers have been environmental stewards for decades, tending with great care to their land and water and valuing a proactive approach to sustainability. Greenhouse gas emissions to produce a gallon of milk dropped nearly 20% over the 10 years from 2007 to 2017, and the environmental footprint of a gallon of milk has significantly decreased since 1944, according to research.
NMPF, a member of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, shared several recommendations with the agriculture committees, including proposed policy changes under their jurisdictions that would modify USDA conservation programs to help dairy producers better keep pace with scientific and technological advancements and put added emphasis on enteric emissions reduction as well as manure management practices.
NMPF supports the bipartisan, bicameral Growing Climate Solutions Act authored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Mike Braun as well as Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Don Bacon (R-NE). This measure would help reduce barriers to farmer participation in environmental markets and is likely be reintroduced in the coming weeks.
NMPF also backs the bipartisan, bicameral Farmer-Driven Conservation Outcomes Act authored by House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and former Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) as well as Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). This bill would direct USDA to establish a process for measuring, evaluating, and reporting on conservation program outcomes, giving the Department the tools to quantify the environmental benefits of related activities.
Action Outside Ag
Outside of the Agriculture Committees, NMPF continues to advocate for passage of the bipartisan, bicameral Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act which would create a 30 percent Investment Tax Credit to cover the upfront capital costs of methane digesters and nutrient recovery systems which can help to reduce methane emissions and enable dairy farmers to use nutrients on and off the farm in a more sustainable manner.
NMPF is also urging the Environmental Protection Agency to activate the RFS Electric Pathway to provide new incentives for dairy farmers to operate methane digesters to produce baseload electricity and is pushing for the Food and Drug Administration to expedite its approval process for feed additives that can reduce enteric methane emissions.
NMPF looks forward to the opportunity to make further progress via bipartisan climate and sustainability legislation.