Gore, Stabenow agree farmers can address climate change
Keynoting the Foundation for Food and Agriculture’s Foster Our Future conference, former Vice President Al Gore and Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., agreed last week that farmers can offer solutions to climate change rather than be considered the generators of carbon emissions.
Gore, who has quietly practiced veganism for some years but owns a farm in Tennessee, described himself as a “”vegan cattle farmer.” He said his farm is a “guinea pig” site for carbon sequestration research and invited attendees to attend a conference called The Climate Underground at his farm in Oct. 18, 19 and 20.
Speaking of what changes in temperature mean for food production and the fires in Australia, Gore said, “I think the public is waking up to this big time.”
He noted that there have always been agricultural surpluses in North and South America and Australia, with a “swing area” in eastern Europe with deficits in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
“If you have a failure in one breadbasket the whole system can even it out, but more than one simultaneously then you have a problem,” Gore said.
Climate change is “radically changing the conditions” that gave rise to agriculture, he said, but there is now “a farmer-led movement” to address the issue.
“We have to start cutting emissions and sequester CO2, bringing it out of the atmosphere,” Gore said. “People talk about new technologies, but the best technology is a tree and at scale a forest.”
In an interview conducted by Gore, Stabenow agreed that agriculture “is a part of the solution. Research is a part of that.”
“In terms of research and science, I remember when we were negotiating GMO labeling,” Stabenow said. Recalling that the situation was so difficult she almost gets hives thinking about it, she added, “I said, ‘I believe in science, that is how I know GMO is safe, that is why I believe in climate change.’”
Stabenow said that the 2018 farm bill provides incentives for farmers to address climate change.
“For the first time we are providing crop insurance for cover crops,” Stabenow said. “We want to incentivize what keeps the soil and the ground together, focus on runoff.”
Stabenow also noted that the bill included a reauthorization of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture on which she and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., insisted before closing the bill.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will soon hold a hearing on climate changed focused on soil health, Stabenow concluded.