OPINION Representatives of a national coalition representing almost 10,000 U.S. farmers and ranchers held a press conference earlier this fall in Washington, D.C., to announce the delivery of a letter to Congress urging support for the Green New Deal. They called on lawmakers to make agriculture policy reform a priority for addressing the climate crisis and the economic crisis facing independent family farms.
The coalition, a joint organizing effort of Regeneration International and the Sunrise Movement, stated it believes the Green New Deal’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2030 is achievable. But it will happen only if the resolution includes policies that spur two large-scale transitions – the transition to renewable-energy alternatives, and the transition to regenerative agriculture and land-use practices.
“We stand ready to help achieve all of the goals outlined in the Green New Deal,” the coalition said in its letter. “But we need Congress to work with us to develop food and agriculture policies that support climate-friendly organic and regenerative farming, ranching and land-use practices.”
Ronnie Cummins, Regeneration International director, said: “It’s time to empower farmers and ranchers to transform the country’s agricultural landscape by transitioning to production practices that are aligned with the Green New Deal’s goals for clean water and air for everyone, access to local and healthy food for all, a level playing field for small businesses and net-zero emissions by 2030.”
Garrett Blad from Sunrise Movement, whose family has farmed in northwest Indiana for three generations, said, “Farmers and ranchers are essential to stop climate change, but current policies put them in shackles. My grandmother lost her sense of purpose after my family sold the dairy cows because growing corporate-industry consolidation made the farm unprofitable. I feel disheartened when I see my uncles stress about historic rains delaying planting season, or how Trump’s tariffs are throwing my family’s business into jeopardy. I’ll be damned if I’ll let global warming take the rest of what my grandparents built. It’s well past time our government fights for the farming families who have been left behind for far too long. A Green New Deal must break the stranglehold corporations have on farmers, and empower them with the tools and financial support to be the good stewards they are. With a Green New Deal we have a historic opportunity to break corporate control of farming, invest in rural America and stand behind the hard-working people who grow our food every day.”
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1-Maine, said, “Farmers are our allies in the fight against climate change. For them change is already at their door and they’re feeling the effects. Farmers and ranchers have a critical role to play in mitigating the devastating effects of greenhouse-gas emissions. As this Congress prioritizes bold solutions to the climate-crisis change, we must remember to bring farmers to the table.”
Sherri Dugger, an Indiana farmer, coalition co-chair and executive director of Women, Food and Agriculture Network as well as the Indiana Farmers Union, said: “We recently completed a climate-related survey with Women, Food and Agriculture Network members, and the results showed that our members care deeply about stewardship of the land and climate mitigation. Their lives are regularly being impacted by climate change. How we react now determines the security and future of America’s food systems.”
Will Harris, a fourth-generation farmer from Bluffton, Georgia, and coalition chair, said: “I am delighted to be part of this effort to rethink how food and energy are produced in this country.”
U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-2-Massachusetts, said, “Farmers across New England are already feeling the effects of the climate crisis. From extreme weather to invasive species, they are getting squeezed not only by a changing climate, but also by federal policies that too often prioritize unsustainable farming and industrial agriculture over the needs of local farmers. Farmers and ranchers put food on the table every day for families across America. Now we need them at the table here in Washington to help guide us toward a more-fair equitable and sustainable agricultural policy.”
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-3-Oregon-Portland, said, “We must reset our agricultural policies through the prism of sustainability. Decades of unsustainable food and farm policy has had an overall negative impact on the environment. But with the right support, farmers and ranchers across the country can play a key role in addressing environmental degradation and the climate emergency. It’s going to take bold transformative ideas like the Green New Deal to save our planet. Equitably reforming our food and farm system must be part of the plan.”
David Levine, president of the American Sustainable Business Council, an organizational member of the coalition and the leading business organization representing the public policy interests of responsible businesses, said: “The American Sustainable Business Council is proud to stand with U.S. Farmers and Ranchers for a Green New Deal. Our businesses across all sectors understand the value of farmers and ranchers as the backbone of our communities and our economy. Farms and ranches are businesses that not only provide healthy food for a strong and resilient workforce, but they also help combat climate change. Our ‘Business for A Green New Deal’ campaign will work side by side with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers for the Green New Deal to advance the policies needed for a sustainable future for all businesses.”
The coalition supports policy reforms that expand economic opportunities for farmers and ranchers whose practices and businesses
- combat climate change by reducing emissions and drawing down and sequestering carbon
- contribute to a clean environment and restore natural habitats
- provide access to locally produced, contaminant-free and nutrient-dense food
- help build and support resilient local and regional food systems and economies
- provide safe working conditions and living wages for farm workers
The coalition is committed to working with Congress to ensure that farmers and ranchers have a seat at the table when it comes to defining and finalizing the specific policies and programs that will form the basis for achieving the goals outlined in the Green New Deal resolution.