By Kiana Brockel, NFU Intern, & Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy
Regular readers of NFU’s Climate Column know there are many ways farmers can mitigate the negative effects of climate change. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers farmers technical and financial support to help interested farmers mitigate climate change and become more climate resilient. In every state throughout the U.S., the State Conservationist considers the advice of bodies like the State Technical Committee to identify key conservation priorities. The state NRCS office then focuses resources and programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to address the specific concerns so identified. Farmers can secure more support for practices and management decisions that work toward those state priorities.
In Colorado, NRCS has prioritized management of fish and wildlife habitat, which invokes water quality and quantity issues. Further, the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative directs additional technical and financial assistance to encourage farmers to slow use of water from the aquifer. This can include managing grazing lands differently to conserve the aquifer.
Farmers interested in adding value to the products while addressing aquifer concerns can work with organizations like NFU to differentiate their product. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) within USDA facilitates the implementation of Process Verified Programs that are designed to reliably convey production information to consumers. Established Process Verified Programs document details like minimum amounts of time animals spend on pasture or use of certain inputs. Farmers Union members could work with AMS to establish pasture management practices that benefit the aquifer and conserve water in Colorado more broadly.
Would you be interested in marketing agricultural products that utilize an AMS verified process? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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