Farmers Need More Resources to Handle Climate Change, Said Oklahoma Farmer Clay Pope During Testimony Before The U.S. Senate Ag CommitteeThu, 11 Mar 2021 14:40:02 CST
Farmers need more federal and state resources to help deal with the impact of climate change, said Clay Pope, Loyal, Okla., during testimony this week before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee.
The 6th generation wheat and cattle producer was testifying on behalf of the Oklahoma Farmers Union and National Farmers Union.
For more than a century my family farmed the same land following the same cycle, Pope said.
After harvest we would use conventional tillage to control weeds and prepare the ground for planting, he said. Once the wheat was up, we would then graze cattle until early March.
In 2004, concerns about worn out equipment, rising input costs and soil erosion, we converted to no-till farming, Pope said.
The northwest Oklahoma farmer said with help from USDA and NRCS they now minimize disturbing the soil, keep something growing on the land and using practices that help promote soil health, while still growing wheat and raising cattle.
For the last four years we have had the best wheat crop ever while using half the fertilizer and burning less fuel, Pope said.
Our investment in soil health has helped us prepare for climate change while promoting the bottom line and helping the environment, he said.
Incentive based voluntary programs have improved water quality in Oklahoma, he noted.
Carbon based incentive programs can provide additional income for farm families, Pope said.
Congress and USDA should work with farmers to implement conservation programs, he said.
The last farm bill was the most important piece of federal climate legislation to date, Pope said.
Carbon markets should be made accessible to all farmers, he said.
Agriculture is facing many challenges from climate control and the good news is we have a path forward, he said.
Pope added the secret is in the soil and cows really can save the planet.
Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who worked hard with such High Plains colleagues as former Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), to craft the current farm bill, asked Pope how we can use the conservation title to do more to tackle the climate crisis.
If you look at conservation planning and really make sure we have the resources at the local level to help implement programs, Pope said.
The Oklahoma farmer said Congress should possibly look at using CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program) and other programs that fall under the WTO Green Box definition that actually pays producers for stewardship.
Finally, Pope added Congress should make sure we’re getting adequate research funding at our Land Grant institutions.
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