With the 2012 Farm Bill dead in Congress, legislators and farm advocacy groups are busy preparing for the 2013 farm bill fight, with lobbyist groups already pushing Congress to take action. In the wake of the 2012 drought, however, calls for the upcoming farm bill to address issues of climate change are becoming louder and louder.
For the past year, farmers have been trapped in the grip of one of the worst droughts in recent history. 2012 has already been declared the hottest year on record. The year’s high temperatures, combined with record low precipitation, pummeled crops across the country.
With even the most recalcitrant farmers admitting that last year’s weather represented a radical departure from traditional climate patterns, some environmental groups see the 2013 Farm Bill as a major chance to address climate change.
In particular, they are hoping to encourage sustainable farming in the upcoming bill, linking more and more federal support and farm subsidies to sustainable practices. One of the primary goals some environmentalists have is breaking the grip of corn and soybean production. Encouraging more diverse planting (and rotating crops to include cover crops) can do much to improve soil health and protect vulnerable water supplies (all-important in an era of unpredictable and extreme weather).
According to a report by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, “Diverse rotations … enrich the soil with plant-available nitrogen and organic carbon, break disease and weed cycles, and diminish erosion by putting living roots and cover on the ground. They protect nearby waterways from pollution and reduce the risk of creating herbicide-resistant weeds.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer