November 20, 2023 /3BL/ – Ceres today pledged to continue working with leading food, apparel, and agriculture companies in the coming months to pass a five-year Farm Bill reauthorization that equitably invests in U.S. farmers and rural communities. The statement comes after President Biden last week signed a one-year extension of the 2018 Farm Bill, ensuring critical programs will be available to support efforts to modernize the U.S. food system to benefit agricultural producers, consumers, communities, and the planet.
“The Farm Bill extension preserves key programs that confront the agricultural risks of climate change by building more resilient farms, crops, and supply chains. We are pleased that Congress has prevented a sharp regression to Dust Bowl-era federal agriculture policy by extending programs that are good for farmers and for the climate,” said Zach Friedman, director of federal policy, Ceres. “It is now critical that Congress acts to pass a full, five-year Farm Bill reauthorization that expands these important programs. This is an opportunity to bolster rural economies and support farmers of all backgrounds while reducing the risks of drought, flooding, poor water and soil quality, and other climate-related damages that are already hurting our food system. Leading food, apparel, and agriculture companies strongly support these climate-smart investments, and we are excited to further connect these companies with members of Congress as Farm Bill negotiations continue.”
“To ensure long-term resilience and the economic viability of the sector, food companies will need to develop new technologies and approaches for a low-carbon, sustainable food system,” says Meryl Richards, Program Director, Food and Forests at Ceres. “Bxay facilitating public-private partnerships, accelerating agricultural research and development, and providing financial and technical assistance to farmers, Farm Bill programs help food companies to mitigate climate impacts both within their supply chains and across the sector, and Ceres is pleased these programs have been extended for another year.”
The extension of the Farm Bill will provide substantial funding to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and other programs whose funding had expired. As Ceres discusses in its new report, Cultivating Innovation: Practical Solutions for Companies to Reduce Agricultural Emissions, FFAR is an important lever for food companies to support collaboration and climate-smart agricultural innovation in their climate transition plans. For example, FFAR’s Greener Cattle Initiative (GCI) conducts research for a wide variety of technological solutions to address methane emissions from dairy and livestock production. GCI, whose founding members include Archer Daniels Midland and Nestlé, awarded its first grants in 2023 to in the U.S. focused on developing and testing new technologies. Ceres had advocated for extended funding for FFAR and other expired programs this fall, including through a letter to Congress signed by more than two-dozen companies and organizations.
“This lapse in funding threatens certainty for participants and other stakeholders, as well as the continuation of agriculture advancement,” the letter said. “Therefore, funding for these programs should continue until the Farm Bill is reauthorized.”
Throughout this Congress, Ceres has also organized members of its Climate Agriculture and Healthy Soils Working Group to advocate for their Farm Bill priorities to create a more resilient agricultural supply chain. The priorities include better technical assistance to access federal conservation programs, improvements to crop insurance, and better pathways toward land access for young and marginalized farmers that are more likely to adopt climate-smart practices and technology. In July, 10 companies — including Bonterra Organic Estates, Brown Family Farms, Eileen Fisher, IndigoAg, Mars Inc., New Belgium Brewing, PepsiCo, Sierra Nevada, Solectrac, and Stonyfield Organic — sent a letter to Congress to advance these priorities. Companies have also held several direct meetings with Congressional offices throughout 2022 and 2023.
Ceres will next bring companies to Capitol Hill for meetings with members of Congress to discuss the Farm Bill in December and expects to facilitate more meetings throughout 2024 until the Farm Bill has been reauthorized.
Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.