The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Phoebe Galt

60+ Groups Form Alliance Against Faulty Offsets, Dirty Energy in Farm Bill

Carbon markets, offsets, factory farm gas threaten climate action under the guise of “climate smart agriculture”

Today, leading food, farming, Indigenous, faith and climate advocacy groups announced the public launch of the Alliance Against Farm Bill Offsets. The Alliance, convened by Food & Water Watch, was formed in response to a growing trend of promoting flawed climate policies under the guise of “climate smart agriculture.” In the last six months alone, while most policies are in gridlock, Congress has passed at least three pieces of legislation that promote carbon offsets and dirty energy, propping up corporate Ag interests and factory farming.

The Alliance is backed by over 60 organizations including Climate Critical, Family Farm Defenders, Friends of the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, National Family Farm Coalition, and 350 Seattle.

Top Alliance Farm Bill priorities include:

  • No carbon markets: Opposition to any Farm Bill additions that would further the development of voluntary or compliance-based carbon markets, including programs, regulations, initiatives, funding, or otherwise. These markets have a decades-long history of failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while allowing polluters to keep polluting and harming low-wealth and Indigenous, Black and Brown communities.
  • No carbon offsets: Prohibition of offsets of any kind, including but not limited to soil offsets, forest offsets, and methane offsets, which are incompatible with sustainable agriculture and may drive further consolidation of farms and agribusinesses.
  • No dirty energy: Stop public funding for factory farm gas digesters, fossil fuel based fertilizers, and other dirty energy projects that are perpetuating bioenergy with carbon capture scams. These perpetuate air and water pollution, massive pipelines and harm to rural economies.
  • Real investments in sustainable agriculture: Invest in and improve existing conservation programs to help transition farmers to more ecologically-based agricultural practices and systems that incorporate Traditional Indigenous Knowledge, support the health of rural and urban communities, and end massive consolidation in our food system.

The alliance will work to educate Congress about these priorities through Congressional briefings, meetings with offices and mobilization of communities in support of a Farm Bill without offsets and dirty energy.

Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh said:

“Flawed policies promoted under the guise of ‘climate smart agriculture’ threaten to entrench the polluting status quo, and worsen the climate crisis. The wishful thinking behind carbon markets and offsets is fanciful at best. Real climate action in the Farm Bill means breaking up factory farms, decoupling conservation programs from the private sector to directly serve the public good, and putting a stop to the Big Ag monopolies trampling our climate for private gain.”

“Farmers and ranchers are already doing a lot of heavy lifting to cool the planet through existing agroecological practices and rotational grazing – and they should get direct support for this hard work through existing Farm Bill efforts such as the Conservation Reserve Program,” noted John E. Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders. “Forcing farmers to sign up with dubious corporate intermediaries to obtain carbon offset credits is just another false solution to the climate crisis that should be opposed in the 2023 Farm Bill debate.”

“Carbon offsets are a poison pill for the planet, farmers, and communities. Agricultural carbon markets will conceal polluters’ real environmental impact; will increase farmland speculation and consolidation; and will continue poisoning fenceline communities,” stressed Antonio Tovar, senior policy associate at the National Family Farm Coalition. “Carbon markets ignore the environmental benefits that a system based on agroecology, economic parity, and social equity creates.”

“Carbon trading and offset programs have targeted forest-dependent Indigenous Peoples for decades and now the carbon trading companies will begin to target farmers, ranchers, and communities from coastal and marine ecosystems,” said Tom BK Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). “Research shows that carbon offsets are a scam that do nothing to reduce pollution or support Indigenous Tribal Nations and communities. Rather, they allow the fossil fuel industries and other private sector actors to use Tribal forest, natural resources and soils for carbon offsets so polluters can pollute more and make billions of dollars privatizing nature. Indigenous Tribes, farmers, ranchers and communities must be warned that the carbon cowboys are coming.”

“Carbon offset markets are fatally flawed. The scientific consensus does not support them. They are riddled with fraud. The economics don’t work for anyone, least of all farmers and landowners. The urgency of the climate crisis demands that we put this failed experiment aside, and focus on what we know can benefit farmers and the planet. The next Farm Bill must shift public spending away from more polluting farming systems and toward more climate-resilient systems based on agroecology and regenerative agriculture,” said Ben Lilliston, Director of Climate Strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

“This Farm Bill represents the greatest opportunity in a generation to position American agriculture as a solution to the climate crisis,” said Jason Davidson, Senior Food and Agriculture Campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “But we cannot do this through carbon markets and offsets underpinned by decades of failure, or through more handouts that further entrench Big Ag’s stranglehold on our food system. We need Congress to pursue strategies that support farmers in building a truly regenerative, resilient and equitable food system.”

Read the full Alliance policy platform here.

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

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