The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) thanks the Committee for seeking input on the climate crisis, the most critical challenge of our time. IATP is a 34-year-old non-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. IATP works to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems. For more than a decade we have advocated for policies at the intersection of climate, agriculture and trade policy that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while supporting and empowering farmers and rural communities to both adapt to and mitigate climate change.
IATP has worked on-the-ground with Minnesota rural communities to develop local climate action plans. We have advocated at the national level to integrate climate goals within the Farm Bill and financial regulation. We have pushed for reforms in United States trade policy to enable climate action and reduce GHGs. IATP has been an advocate at United Nations agencies, including the Committee on World Food Security, to advance agroecology as a solution to food security and climate challenges. And IATP has actively attended most of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties over the last decade.
Major disruptions to our food system from the COVID-19 crisis and recent trade fights have made clear the fragility of our agriculture economy. These disruptions come on the heels of seven straight years of low prices, often below the cost of production, and rising debt and farm bankruptcies. A series of antitrust and competition investigations reveal a marketplace that is controlled by a handful of global companies to the detriment of farmers and consumers. Climate policies need to respond to these economic challenges and provide a path forward that reduces emissions, strengthens resilience and spurs a more equitable economy.
Farmers and rural residents are already on the front lines of the climate crisis. Extreme weather events have repeatedly damaged farms over the last 10 years — from the devastating drought of 2012, to a series of major hurricanes hitting coastal farmers in the southeast, to major flooding in the Midwest last year. The climate science tells us that these types of events will strike with more frequency and severity, creating enormous challenges for farmers and anyone working within a natural-resource based economy.
While most of our comments are focused on the agriculture system, many of our policy recommendations extend beyond just farming. For that reason, we have responded to the more general call for comments, rather than the narrower call from Senator Baldwin focused on agriculture. In our comments to the Committee, IATP has responded to three of questions posed. Our comments identify a series of concrete policy recommendations in the following broad areas:
- The Farm Bill and other agriculture-related programs
- Regulating GHG emissions
- Strengthening financial regulations to address climate risk
- Reforming trade policy
As a whole, IATP believes these reforms would result in absolute GHG emission reductions and aid farmers and rural communities in making a transition toward more climate-resilient and economically just systems — both in the U.S. and around the world.
To read the full letter, please download the letter here.