Young NY farmers want Congress to help them withstand climate change
Monday, November 20, 2023
Young farmers in New York and across the country want Congress to help them deal with the effects of climate change.
Bayer's Farmer Voice Survey showed 71% of farmers said climate change has affected their farm. The Fifth National Climate Assessment reported drier conditions are becoming more of a detriment to agriculture in the Southeast, and the problem of drying land is increasing since New York and other Northeastern states had modest droughts in 2022.
Holly Rippon-Butler, land policy director for the National Young Farmers Coalition, described some climate-resistant practices farmers are using to combat climate change.
"One of the most popular programs that farmers in our network are using is the high tunnel program," Rippon-Butler pointed out. "One of the ways farmers are adapting is by building high tunnels on their farm, making sure that they've got some way to keep crops out of the weather or control the climate a little bit for their crops."
Conservation is becoming more important to farmers. The National Young Farmers Survey found 83% of young farmers said their farm exists primarily to engage in conservation or regeneration and 86% of young farmers utilize regenerative agriculture practices. But fewer than half of younger farmers are taking advantage of U.S. Department of Agriculture programs which could prove beneficial to handling climate change.
While farmers are determining how to handle climate change's effects, there are other barriers preventing them from leading the charge. Rippon-Butler described the challenges farmers are facing.
"Being able to afford land to purchase is the top challenge young farmers face," Rippon-Butler explained. "This kind of long-term security is really necessary for farmers to invest in climate mitigation and resilience."
She noted federal legislation could help young farmers better deal with climate change. Some bills include the Increasing Land Access, Security, and Opportunities Act, which provides funding for equitable land access, and The Farmer to Farmer Education Act, which creates investments in farmer-led climate change education could prove helpful.
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