Biodiversity, Climate Change Critical Topics for 2023 Farm Bill, Group Says
Thursday, March 2, 2023
As hearings on the 2023 Farm Bill begin, a push is on to ensure biodiversity is part of the conversation.
A Senate hearing on the bill's conservation and forestry programs was held Wednesday.
Mary Pfaffko, senior private lands policy analyst for Defenders of Wildlife, said the bill is an opportunity to combat the linked issues of biodiversity loss and climate change.
"Farmers, ranchers and producers play a critical role in conserving our nation's wildlife," Pfaffko pointed out. "With so many of our nation's imperiled species occurring on private lands, depending on private lands, they depend on this Farm Bill."
Pfaffko added farmers depend on voluntary programs to help them conserve natural resources on their land. According to Defenders of Wildlife, more than 70% of species listed under the Endangered Species Act rely on private lands, and more than 40% of private land in the lower 48 states is managed for agriculture.
Pfaffko noted her organization has a number of recommendations for conserving wildlife, guided by four principles.
"Those are to consider the interconnected biodiversity loss and climate-change crises, to prevent livestock-wildlife conflict, to ensure equity in access to those Farm Bill conservation programs, and [to ensure] accountability," Pfaffko outlined.
The recommendations include incentivizing projects with co-benefits for climate and wildlife, adopting a definition of "climate resilience" incorporating the role of biodiversity, and providing national-level funding for all Working Lands for Wildlife initiatives. The current Farm Bill from 2018 expires Sept. 30.
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