WASHINGTON (CN) – Teaming up with young climate activists, 10,000 farmers and ranchers urged Congress on Wednesday to support the sweeping environmental and economic reforms of the Green New Deal.
“We believe these climate goals are achievable – but only if the [Green New Deal] includes policies that spur two large-scale transitions: the transition away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy alternatives, and the transition away from industrial agriculture toward family farm-based organic and regenerative farming and land-use practices that improve soil health and draw down and sequester carbon,” the coalition wrote in a letter delivered to Congress Wednesday.
The letter was delivered to members of Congress on the same day that young climate activists testified before a House panel urging Congress to take seriously the threats of climate change. Regeneration International, a nonprofit that supports regenerative farming techniques, teamed with the youth-focused climate advocacy group Sunrise Movement to lead the coalition.
The letter endorses a non-binding resolution introduced by Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., that calls for the adoption of the Green New Deal.
The resolution introduced in February does not enact any of the changes that are to make up the sweeping proposal, such as the total elimination of greenhouse gas emissions, a federal jobs guarantee and a promise of “clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food and access to nature,” but rather expresses the sense of Congress that those things should become law.
The resolution was widely panned by Republicans when first introduced, particularly when Ocasio-Cortez’s office released a fact sheet that referenced “farting cows” as an issue to combat. Her office later said the fact sheet was circulated by mistake.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., held a vote on the resolution in March, but 43 Democrats in the Senate voted present rather than endorsing the measure. Three Democrats voted with Republicans to reject the resolution.
The Green New Deal has also been controversial among farming groups. The National Farmers Union, one of the largest farming organizations in the country and one that typically supports liberal policies, struck down a resolution to back the Green New Deal in March.
But the letter circulated Wednesday casts the Green New Deal as a potential boon for farmers, both by changing farming practices to prioritize smaller farms and by reducing the increasingly severe natural disasters that come with climate change.
“We call on Congress to put the ‘Green’ in the Green New Deal by empowering us to revitalize the health and economic security of this country’s middle class, to make family farming economically viable again, and to help reverse climate change and improve America’s air and water quality by making our ecosystems healthy again,” the letter states.