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Crop Insurance Expansion without Climate Adaptation Poses Risks for Farmers
Recent Farm Bill proposals to expand crop insurance for U.S. farmers have failed to acknowledge threats to agriculture from climate change, finds a new report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).
In their report, A Risky Proposition: Crop Insurance in the Face of Climate Change, authors Julia Olmstead and Jim Kleinschmit argue that crop insurance expansion without climate adaptation for agriculture would threaten food security and farmers’ livelihoods, while increasing costs for taxpayers.
“Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” said Kleinschmit. “Farmers need support to make their land more resilient to floods, droughts and the other pressures climate change brings. Revenue insurance proposals help farmers financially cope with disasters, but do nothing to help them minimize risk in the field.”
Research indicates that diversified farms that incorporate livestock and perennials are more resilient than single-crop farming systems to the increases in flooding, drought and pest invasions associated with climate change. Current federal crop insurance programs, and the “shallow-loss” revenue insurance programs that have been proposed for the 2012 Farm Bill, discourage crop diversification and encourage farmers to take on unwieldy amounts of risk.
A better option, says the report, would be for farmers participating in federal crop insurance programs to practice “climate compliance,” in which they would work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a whole-farm plan to increase climate resilience and receive support via Farm Bill conservation programs to implement the plan. This cost-savings plan would help curb the risk of large federal outlays on insurance payouts and would leverage already existing Farm Bill programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
“It’s shocking that amid all the discussion of crop insurance expansion, no one is talking about the reasons why farmers need more protection from risk,” said Olmstead. “This year’s severe droughts and floods should be clear indications that if we don’t take steps to help farmers protect their farms from climate change, we’re not only putting the federal budget at risk, but our entire food supply as well.”
IATP supports policies in the U.S. and internationally that help farmers adapt to the effects of climate change and will be producing an upcoming Web series profiling farmers who have withstood extreme weather by building resilience into their farming systems.
For more information, click here.
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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.