The Clash Between Farmers and Climate Change

President Trump recently backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement indicating a reversal of policy for the United States. Farmers across the corn-belt were surprisingly silent following the news. Chris Clayton, agricultural policy editor at the Progressive Farmer claims that many farmers do not want to hear about climate change. 

Iowa State University polled over 5,000 corn-belt farmers and found that while 66% believed that climate change is occurring, only 41% believed that humans bore any part of the blame. This is especially concerning as agriculture produces 9% of all United States greenhouse gasses. Farms produce many forms of greenhouse gases including methane (meat farms), nitrous dioxide (fertilizer), and carbon dioxide (machinery). Some of the greenhouse gas production cannot be avoided, but steps can be taken to reduce the overall load on the environment.

The United States government tried to do exactly that. Under the Obama Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) expanded the legal definition of “Waters of the United States” to incorporate smaller streams. The purpose of the rule change was to be able to better control sources of pollution coming from farms and other polluters.  This rule directly applies to Farmers because it allowed the Federal Government to regulate their individual farms. Thus, many farmers and farm advocates fought against the measure and have since supported the rolling back of the regulation by President Trump.

The deregulation leaves the environment unprotected with very few answers.  Iowa farmer, Dave Miller remarks, “”If you can help me deal with weather variability… …I can probably adapt to climate variability.” This indicates that we need to work towards a win-win solution, where our food, environment, and farmers all succeed. In my research there is one main organization that recently petitioned the EPA to enforce stricter environmental regulations to limit large scale farm pollution.  Here is a link to their website Food and Water Watch

Preserving our environment for future generation is inherent and fundamental to Ellwood Thompson’s social mission. Please join us in this important cause.

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