Prioritizing Climate Change & Inequality in Agriculture

THE JUSTICE FOR BLACK FARMERS ACT

Sign Our Petition in Support of the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020 to Cancel Pigford Debt. Acres of Ancestry Initiative/ Black Agraian Fund, sign.moveon.org/petitions/join-acres-of-ancestry-initiative-black-agrarian-fund-in-support-of-justice-for-black-farmers-act.

The Biden Administration has been taking executive actions to tackle and secure environmental justice. Earlier this year, President Biden signed an executive order for approaching the climate crisis at home and abroad, learning about climate-resilient food and agriculture and directing every federal agency to advance our country’s climate strategy. Moving forward, he plans to prioritize climate change and inequality in agriculture by making these two issues the main priorities of the Biden administration, evidently reversing and solving President Donald J. Trump’s unraveling of environmental regulations. 

To have agriculture as the foundation of this climate agenda, farmers are looking to take up farming methods that could keep carbon dioxide locked in the soil and out of the atmosphere. An idea proposed is the federal soil “carbon bank.” It offers credits to farmers for the carbon they sequester in the soil through sustainable farming methods. This plan would allocate $1 billion to purchase carbon credits from farmers at $20 per ton of carbon they trap in the soil and could reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 50 megatons.

Herewith, this legacy of discrimination that has driven generations of Black Americans from their farms and left them at an economic disadvantage is being looked upon. There are estimated less than 50,000 remaining Black farmers in the United States, which compared to 1920, is a significant difference, as there were nearly 1 million Black farmers. This is setting the stage for new policies for greater change and steps to improve Black and other minority farmers’ access to land, loans, and other assistance, including “climate-smart” production. One includes Congressman David Scott of Georgia, who is the first black chairman. Another is the Justice for Black Farmers Act. 

Originally on (November 30th) 2020, U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced the legislation. Joining Booker as sponsors were Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York state, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont. This comprehensive bill is announced to address this situation in federal agricultural policy and expand Black-owned farmland by up to 32 million acres through land grants over 10 years. “The Justice for Black Farmers Act will address and correct USDA discrimination and take bold steps to forgive debt and restore the land that has been lost in order to empower a new generation of Black farmers to succeed and thrive,” said Senator Booker.

In shorter terms, included in The Justice for Black Farmers Act are policies that provide debt relief, create a land grant program, restore land base, and implement systemic reforms. These policies will address and end discrimination within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in hopes of empowering a new generation of Black farms and supplying a successful future for them. 

Specifically, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will:

  • End Discrimination within USDA
  • Protect Remaining Black Farmers from Land Loss
  • Restore the Land Base Lost by Black Farmers
  • Create a Farm Conservation Corps 
  • Empower HBCUs and Advocates for Black Farmers
  • Assist All Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers
  • Enact System Reforms to Help All Farmers and Ranchers

Sources:

January 29, 2021 Allison Johnson Andrea Spacht Collins. “Biden Sets Stage for Climate Resilient Food & Agriculture.” NRDC, 29 Jan. 2021, www.nrdc.org/experts/andrea-spacht-collins/biden-sets-stage-climate-resistant-food-agriculture.

Rappeport, Alan, and Ana Swanson. “Biden Administration Ramps Up Debt Relief Program to Help Black Farmers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Mar. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/03/25/us/politics/biden-debt-relief-black-farmers.html.  

Tabuchi, Hiroko, and Nadja Popovich. “Two Biden Priorities, Climate and Inequality, Meet on Black-Owned Farms.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 31 Jan. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/climate/black-farmers-discrimination-agriculture.html.  

“U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.” Home, 9 Feb. 2021, www.booker.senate.gov/news/press/booker-warren-gillibrand-smith-warnock-and-leahy-announce-comprehensive-bill-to-address-the-history-of-discrimination-in-federal-agricultural-policy.   

Fact Checking The Presidential Debate, Topic: Climate Change

On September 29, at 9 p.m. EST the first presidential debate of the year started. This debate will go down in the history books for a multitude of reasons. One them being that it was the first debate in 12 years that had the moderator ask a question about climate change. But the responses and statements made in correlation were not all factual. Here’s a fact-check of some statements made about climate change.

“I was able to bring down the cost of renewable energy to cheaper than or cheap as coal and gas and oil.” -Joe Biden

Mostly True

The 2009 economic stimulus bill from the Obama administration included $50 billion to promote renewable energy, which is the largest single investment in renewable energy in the nation’s history. While it did have some failures, including the bankruptcy of Solyndra (a solar power company), overall there was a boost in growth and drove down the cost of win and solar power. In some places in the country where it is particularly windy and sunny, wind and solar energy is cheaper than coal or gas, but in other parts of the country coal and gas is still cheaper. 

“It was driving energy prices through the sky.” -Donald Trump

False

Chris Wallace (the moderator) asked Trump why he rolled back Obama’s Clean Power Plan that was designed to curb planet-warming from coal fired power plants, by insisting the plan was causing coal and gas prices to skyrocket. However, the Clean Power Plan was never implemented and was halted by a 2016 Supreme Court Order, and was never reinstated before the Trump administration finally rolled it back last year. 

“Every year, I get the call. California is burning. California is burning. If that was cleaned, if you had forest management, you wouldn’t be getting those calls.” -Trump

False

This was Trump’s response to Mr. Wallace’s question, “Do you believe that human pollution, gas, and greenhouse gases contribute to global warming?” The California wildfires have been a reoccurring issue for years now and are  known to be caused because of climate change. Trump refuses to acknowledge this and has attributed the wildfires to the state government(even though most of the land with the wildfires is on federal, not state property) not picking up the leaves and sticks being left on the floor. 

“They want to take out the cows.” – Trump

False

Trump was referring to the Green New Deal when he made this statement (The Green New Deal is a plan to combat climate change made by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). It’s important to note that this is not Joe Biden’s plan to fight climate change. While the Green New Deal would alter transportation and agriculture sectors, it does not eliminate all cows or the consumption of meat. 

“I’m OK with electric cars too. I’m all for electric cars. I have given big incentives for electric cars.” -Trump

False

Trump stated  this when trying to prove that he cares about reducing carbon emissions. Cars are not the only cause of rising carbon emissions, and switching to electric cars will not eliminate carbon emissions. Additionally, Trump never actually provided “big incentives,” he actually tried to take away tax incentives for consumers who buy electric cars. 

“I want crystal clean water, and air. I want beautiful clean air. We have the lowest carbon. Look at our numbers now. We are doing phenomenal.” -Trump

Misleading

Over 100 environmental laws and rules have been rolled back and weakened by Trump’s administration, including clean-water regulations that were designed to reduce pollution in the nation’s river, lakes, and wetlands. He also rolled back multiple Clean Air Act regulations that were designed to reduce pollution for planet-warming greenhouse gases. 

While carbon emissions are the lowest they have been in years, it is not because of Trump’s plans. It’s actually due to the Covid-19 outbreak that had everyone stay home. People weren’t taking planes, driving, or littering as much since they were all inside. 

“You know we’re planting a billion trees, the billion tree project.” -Trump

Mostly False

In January, Trump announced that the U.S. would officially join the 1 Trillion Trees Initiative, whose goal is to plant 1 trillion trees not a billion. However, there is no evidence that the U.S. hasn’t planted a single tree as a part of this initiative. Planting trees also would not solve climate change.

Davenport, Coral. “Fact-Checking the First 2020 Presidential Debate.” The New York Times, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/09/29/us/debate-fact-check. 

Gross, Paul. “Fact-Checking Climate Change Comments in First Presidential Debate.” WDIV, WDIV ClickOnDetroit, 30 Sept. 2020, http://www.clickondetroit.com/features/2020/09/30/fact-checking-climate-change-comments-in-first-presidential-debate/. 

Osaka, Shannon. “We Fact-Checked Trump’s Climate Responses from the First Presidential Debate.” Grist, 30 Sept. 2020, grist.org/politics/trump-debate-climate-change-fact-check/.