Just last month, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D - NY), along with Senator Edward Markey (D - MA), proposed new legislation that would aim to eliminate greenhouse gases from the United States within the next 10 years. Many, including Patrick Moore (co-founder of, but no longer affiliated with, Greenpeace) and the Job Creators Network, have denounced the proposed plan due to its radical views in how to accomplish the elimination of greenhouse gases (and lack of research). This is not to mention the infamous 'farting cows' reference, which has since been removed from correspondence and websites advocating for the Green New Deal.
But while many have discounted the Green New Deal, there are experts who warn farmers not to 'sit on the sidelines' in this discussion, and why the public should be paying attention to what is being proposed within this new plan.
John Herath, in his recent article published by Farm Journal on March 4, 2019, quoted Dr. Frank Mitloehner of the University of California at Davis, stating that farmers should take the 'driver's seat' in the conversation regarding sustainability in agriculture - not politicians.
Mitloehner warned those in agriculture to not take the Green New Deal lightly, especially since Ocasio-Cortez is reaching out to experts in agriculture.
“I take all of that very seriously. Many of my colleagues don’t seem to take it very seriously, but I take it very seriously,” he said. “I hear all these people talk about sustainability to farmers, okay? Now you tell me, who in the world is a greater expert in sustainability than a farmer? Who knows more about the interplay of soils and plants and animals and climate and all of that than a farmer? And who has a greater interest in the sustainability of their lands than farmers?”
Consequently, Mitloehner argues farmers should be leading the discussion on sustainability.
Mitloehner stated, “To put them into this defensive position and for farmers to accept that role of taking on a defensive position is unacceptable to me,” he said. “I think farmers need to be on the front seat, on the driver’s seat on that sustainability train and not view that as a cuss word. It’s not. It is what you do every day, and if you don’t do it, you go bankrupt. It’s that simple.”
While farmers, in general, largely agree that environmental sustainability is critical towards ensuring the future of their operation, and that global warming is fact... not fiction, it should be experts within the agricultural industry (not politicians), who are developing the means to improve efficiency and sustainability within the agricultural industry. The production of carbon dioxide is a bi-product of breathing. Instead of an all out ban on production of greenhouse gases, a greater emphasis could be placed on the production of fuels from renewable resources (such as corn, soybeans, canola, etc.). Technologies currently exist to take a greater quantity of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere (in the production of renewable energy sources) than what is put back in the atmosphere by those renewable products.
Additionally, the technology that allows farmers to utilize farm inputs more efficiently, also reduces overall input costs. Therefore, it is the farmers' best interest to lead the discussion of how to be both environmentally and economically sustainable in the future.