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A coalition of groups is calling on Congress to ensure food and agriculture policies are prioritized in debates and policy moves related to the Green New Deal. (Photo: TumblingRun/flickr/cc)

300+ Groups to Congress: #GreenNewDeal 'Must Transform Our Food System and Revitalize Rural America'

"America's farmers, ranchers, fishers, and workers who feed the nation must be at the center of this policy agenda, not on the sidelines."

Jessica Corbett

"To address the climate crisis, the Green New Deal must transform our food system and revitalize rural America," a large coalition of green groups told Congress Wednesday.

"The Green New Deal presents a unique opportunity to address the climate crisis and the deep inequities that are a fundamental threat to us all."
—green groups' letter

The demand came in a letter (pdf) that more than 300 ranching, fishing, farmworker, food, agriculture, consumer, public health, and environmental organizations sent to lawmakers on behalf of their millions of members.

In February, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the historic Green New Deal resolution, backed by dozens of other Democratic lawmakers and a growing grassroots movement of Americans frustrated with Republican lawmakers and the Trump administration's attacks on climate and environmental protection efforts—as well as insufficiently bold measures by Democrats to tackle the global crisis.

"As the Green New Deal moves forward with proposals to combat the climate crisis while creating millions of jobs and ensuring a just transition to a sustainable future," says the coalition's letter, "America's farmers, ranchers, fishers, and workers who feed the nation must be at the center of this policy agenda, not on the sidelines."

"To reduce emissions and bolster our nation's resilience in the face of the climate crisis," the letter continues, "we must enact policies that transform unsustainable industrial agriculture, reduce food sector consolidation, and empower farmers and ranchers to adopt organic and agroecological practices."

Noting that "the original New Deal helped America's farmers survive the Great Depression and feed our nation while restoring farmlands and soil," the letter points out that the Green New Deal can benefit the climate and the environment while also "ensuring fair prices and family-sustaining livable wages for the farmers, ranchers, fishers, and workers who bring food to our tables."

As Friends of the Earth outlined in a statement, the coalition's letter details four key policy priorities for the Green New Deal:

  • Carbon reduction, sequestration, and climate resilience via a rapid, just transition that empowers farmers and ranchers to adopt ecologically regenerative, organic, and agroecological practices;
  • Fair prices for farmers, ranchers, and fishers, anti-trust measures that help reverse food sector consolidation, and healthy working conditions with family-sustaining living wages for workers;
  • Diversified, resilient local and regional food economies anchored by family farmers, ranchers, and fishers that ensure healthy, sustainable food for all, combat consolidation in the food and farming sector and reverse the rapid loss of farmers and deterioration of farmland; and
  • Avoid "false solutions" and agribusiness-sponsored proposals that do nothing to address the systemic causes of our climate crisis and delay progress.

"The food system's profound ecological, social justice, and economic problems are interconnected and cannot be addressed piecemeal," the letter concludes. "The Green New Deal presents a unique opportunity to address the climate crisis and the deep inequities that are a fundamental threat to us all."

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