MFT’s 2023 Farm Bill Priorities – Climate-Smart Agriculture

MFT’s 2023 Farm Bill Priorities – Climate-Smart Agriculture

May 12, 2023


Kristina Buckley

In this series, we are taking a deeper dive into each priority and how you can support. This week, we are taking a look at climate-smart agriculture. Together, we'll take a look at what climate-smart agriculture is, how it will benefit the future of agriculture and how we're advocating for it in the upcoming Farm Bill.

Every five years, Congress drafts a new federal Farm Bill, which determines how billions of dollars are spent in our communities. The Farm Bill shapes what’s grown on the land and who grows it, conservation and climate, the safety of our food system, and the economic health of rural businesses and communities. This year we’ve outlined our four top priorities to advocate for inclusion in the Farm Bill. These priorities are: 1) farmland protection and access, 2) local and regional food systems development, 3) climate-smart agriculture, and 4) a federal safety net for PFAS-impacted farms.

The 2023 Farm Bill should play a critical role in building a climate-friendly and resilient future.

Farmers need resources like funding, research, and risk management assistance to implement climate-friendly farming practices. Climate-smart farming practices can trap carbon in the soil, while improving the health of the soil, improving water quality, supporting wildlife habitat, and increasing farm profitability. The next Farm Bill must address climate change.

How we will support change:

We are advocating for federal investments in climate-friendly agriculture and support a Farm Bill that builds climate resilience by increasing conservation program funding, access to those funds by farmers, and efficiency of program delivery to meet growing demand. We strongly support the Agriculture Resilience Act which has been championed by Maine Representative Chellie Pingree.

We specifically would like to see the following responses within federal programs:

  • Expand technical assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service and contracted third parties to support farmers in becoming more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
  • Ensure the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a robust and supportive program to help farmers of all sizes and in all locations deal with climate change impacts. For example:
  • Increase funding levels for CSP so that more farmers are able to enroll.
  • Make changes to CSP to reduce barriers to access, including:
  • Creating in statute a minimum payment rate that keeps pace with inflation;
  • Ensuring farmers are buffered from losses in yield resulting from changes in management practices;
  • Giving preference to farmers who have started to adopt climate-friendly practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP);
  • Providing farmers with the same cost share assistance as provided through EQIP; and
  • Ensuring CSP payments are prioritized for practices that are focused on soil health and resilience to climate change impacts.
  • Change EQIP so that it can adequately help farmers of all sizes and in all locations deal with climate change impacts. For example:
  • Increase funding for EQIP so that more farmers are able to enroll.
  • Make changes to EQIP to reduce access barriers such as through establishing a sufficient minimum payment structure and increasing access to upfront cost share assistance to better support enrollment by smaller and more diversified producers.
  • Prioritize EQIP payments for practices that are focused on soil health and resilience to climate change impacts.
  • Increase funding for and prioritize soil health and climate change mitigation and adaptation agricultural research and outreach. For example:
  • Create a new CSP On-Farm Conservation Stewardship Innovation Grant program.
  • Increase funding to and authorization of USDA Climate Hubs to support previously established climate risk mitigation and adaptation goals.

How can you get involved?

The Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA) was recently reintroduced and supporting it is a great way to get involved. The ARA is a comprehensive climate marker bill that has the potential to transform the next Farm Bill. The ARA has been championed by Maine’s Representative Chellie Pingree.

The ARA is a farmer-driven, science-informed roadmap for reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in US agriculture. It includes strategies for:

  • Incentivizing on-farm conservation
  • Increasing farm viability
  • Expanding pasture-based livestock
  • Building on-farm renewable energy
  • Supporting farmer-centered research

The ARA needs your support and now is the time for action! We have a key window for building support as 2023 Farm Bill drafting gets underway. Here are some ideas of actions you can take to support climate-friendly agriculture in the next Farm Bill:

  • Send a letter to or call Senator Collins, Senator King, and Representative Golden
  • Say ‘thank you’ to policymakers who are active on climate issues, like Representative Pingree
  • Tell your story on social media and explain what climate-friendly agriculture means to you
  • Talk to your friends and contacts in other states, specifically states with members on House or Senate Agriculture Committees

Representative Chellie Pingree (District 1)
Washington DC Office – Phone: (202) 225-6116
Portland Office – Phone: (207) 774-5019

Representative Jared Golden (District 2)
Washington DC Office – Phone: (202) 225-6306
Bangor Office – Phone: (207) 248-7400

Senator Susan Collins
Washington DC Office – Phone: (202) 224-2523
Bangor Office – Phone: (207) 945-0417

Senator Angus King
Washington DC Office – Phone: (202) 224-5344
Bangor Office – Phone: (207) 945-8000

You can learn more about our 2023 Farm Bill Priorities by downloading a full copy of our top recommendations, which includes why the issue matters to Maine farmers, how we are advocating for change, and a list of specific desired changes within federal programs.

Are you a farmer interested in joining MFT to create policy change? Share your priorities and get involved.

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