What a remarkable moment in time this is for Solutions from the Land’s farmer, rancher, forest landowner leaders and their collaborating partners. The passage and signing into law by President Biden of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will unleash the largest federal investment in climate change and clean energy in history, including the largest federal investment ever in climate smart agriculture programs and rural renewable energy solutions. This extraordinary accomplishment has been a long time coming, and SfL’s ever growing network of trailblazing leaders can take great pride in the fact that the steady guidance and leadership they have been providing since the launch of the 25x’25 movement in 2004 contributed to the passage of this historic piece of legislation.
“25x’25” became a rallying cry for renewable energy and a goal for America – to get 25 percent of our energy from renewable resources like wind, solar, and biofuels by the year 2025. From that base of support and movement which led to the adoption of 25x’25 as a national goal in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, we expanded our focus to include climate change, recognizing that the homegrown clean energy solutions that would improve energy and national security, diversify and improve farm income and revitalize rural economies, would also concurrently reduce and sequester GHG emissions.
Through the failed Obama administration era attempt to pass climate legislation via the Waxman-Markey bill in 2009, we learned how to and not how to engage farmers, ranchers and forest landowners on climate change and wisely began local and state conversations, led by highly respected producers across the country, on pathways to adapt to changing conditions, improve resilience and sustainably intensify production- Ag SDG solutions graphic. That strategy paid off, and we began a new “Climate Smart Agriculture- CSA” movement using the same bottom up organizing approach we used to win broad support for 25x’25. After helping form and facilitate state level CSA leadership teams in North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, Iowa and Florida, we created and supported the North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance where we have been at the forefront of efforts to scale up federal investments in pragmatic climate smart agriculture systems and practices that farmers told us they needed.
Of the more than $369 billion that was approved for climate change and clean energy investments in the Inflation Reduction Act, approximately $40 billion, or roughly 10 percent of the funds will go to USDA for climate smart agriculture programs, biofuel development, forest restoration work, renewable energy tax credits, conservation technical assistance and rural electric cooperative carbon capture and storage and resilience projects.
Who would have thought a group of self-directed farmer, rancher and forester leaders could have had such an impact in shaping national climate and clean energy policy? SfL’s leaders did and for that we are most grateful and honored to have played a role in helping them realize their vision of ways agriculture can transform and deliver the widest possible range of goods and services from the land. While the hard part still lies ahead, putting these new tools and resources to work, we urge our leaders and partners to pause, reflect on what you have accomplished. Congratulations for the patience, courage, discipline, and rigor you demonstrated along the journey we have been on together. Three cheers to all for a job done exceptionally well. Now let’s get to work.