Originally posted by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, 1st District of Maine

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-NJ), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) today led 30 of their colleagues in a letter urging House and Senate leadership to support a historic, long-term investment in farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as a part of upcoming infrastructure and climate change legislation. Text of their letter is available online here.

Pingree and Heinrich are the authors of the Agriculture Resilience Act, legislation that empowers farmers with the tools and resources needed to improve soil health, sequester carbon, reduce emissions, enhance their resilience, and tap into new market opportunities. Spanberger and Booker are the authors of the Climate Stewardship Act, a climate change bill focused on voluntary farm and ranch conservation practices, massive reforestation, and wetlands restoration. The lawmakers urged Congressional leadership to use the two bicameral bills as a roadmap for the infrastructure package to leverage new and existing programs at the Department of Agriculture to achieve net-zero emissions from U.S. agriculture in the coming decades.

“President Biden’s American Jobs Plan seeks to position American agriculture ‘to lead the shift to net-zero emissions while providing new economic opportunities for farmers.’ We agree that now is the moment to be ambitious on this front,” said the lawmakers in their letter. “Specifically, we request that this infrastructure and climate package include $200 billion over the next decade for new and existing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation, research, renewable energy, tree planting, and food systems initiatives, in addition to robust funding for rural development programs including investments in USDA rural water, broadband, business, and electric programs.”

The letter continued: “Beyond simply investing in these areas, this package should also specifically target resources to maximize the impact of USDA programs on climate change adaptation and mitigation. Both the Agriculture Resilience Act and the Climate Stewardship Act propose climate-focused policy changes to existing USDA programs as well as new initiatives to meet climate and rural infrastructure needs that are not currently addressed by existing programs…Many of these specific policies were also endorsed in recommendations made last year by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.”

“American farmers, ranchers, and foresters are ready to lead the shift to net-zero emissions, but they need Congress to provide them with the necessary knowledge, tools, and resources to do so,” the lawmakers stated. “Upcoming legislation focused on infrastructure and climate change is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Congress to provide this critical support, which would also improve the quality of the water we drink and the air we breathe, increase farmers’ bottom lines, and make farms and rural communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

The letter is cosigned by Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Julia Brownley, Cheri Bustos, Josh Harder, Jared Huffman, Kaiali’i Kahele, Marcy Kaptur, Ro Khanna, Ann Kirkpatrick, Ann McLane Kuster, Alan Lowenthal, Doris Matsui, James P. McGovern, Joe Neguse, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Scott Peters, Mark Pocan, Bobby L. Rush, Tim Ryan, Kim Schrier, and Peter Welch, and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Patrick Leahy, Jeffrey A. Merkley, Alex Padilla, Bernard Sanders, Tina Smith, Raphael Warnock, Elizabeth Warren, and Ron Wyden.