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Alliance Encourages Indiana Farmers to Fight Climate Impacts

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More frequent heavy rainfalls are posing challenges for growers in Indiana. (Adobe Stock)
More frequent heavy rainfalls are posing challenges for growers in Indiana. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman - Producer, Contact
December 11, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS - More than half of Indiana's land is used for agriculture, and there's a new effort to keep those lands resilient to the effects of climate change.

The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance includes forest owners, food producers, state governments and conservation groups.

Michael Dunn is the director of Freshwater Conservation with The Nature Conservancy in Indiana, and said farmers are already in the crosshairs of the warming climate.

"Whether we look at the rainy planting seasons we've had the last several years or even the drought back in 2012," said Dunn, "it's greatly impacting agriculture in the livelihoods in rural Indiana."

The alliance is promoting federal policies that focus on soil health, livestock and dairy, and forests.

Dunn said they're focused on encouraging and supporting farmers and ranchers who transition to climate-smart practices, and offering incentives to increase on-farm renewable energy and reduce energy consumption.

While there is a cost and risk to adopting practices like the use of cover crops, Pipa Elias - The Nature Conservancy's director of agriculture for North America - said it's ultimately a win-win.

"It kind of pays off, in terms of having a viable agriculture economy in this country," said Elias. "And on the farms themselves, a lot of these practices are beneficial over the course of a few years to farmers and ranchers, and actually helping the economics on their farm."

Dunn added that politically, people on both sides of the aisle agree farmers and ranchers need support to tackle climate change. He pointed to the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act, which was introduced in the Senate over the summer.

"That's actually been sponsored by Indiana's own Senator [Mike] Braun," said Dunn. "And that's looking for how the federal government can help with supporting and sending the signal of the importance of agriculture's role as part of the climate solution."

The alliance is also encouraging a public-private partnership to reduce the greenhouse-gas impact of food waste and loss within the food supply chain, and increasing federal investments in agriculture, forestry, and food-related research.

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy - Midwest Region contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, Sustainable Agriculture, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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