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Guest Essay: Mary Headley, Helping transform agriculture from climate problem to climate solution

I learned how agriculture can become part of the climate change solution.
Earth Day Celebration 2021-Farm 49-005
Mckensey Bebo and her 5-year-old son Zender plant Sea Buck Thorn trees to celebrate Earth Day 2021 at Farm 49 in Longmont on Sunday, April 25, 2021.

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Kudos to the Longmont Museum for the wonderful Big Picture Climate Change Series it produced last week! I was heartened to learn how agriculture, although a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions, can become part of the solution through changes in practices that foster carbon sequestration. 

I was also impressed that on April 20 Senator Michael Bennet was one of several senators to reintroduce a bipartisan bill called the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which “will break down barriers for farmers and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets so they can be rewarded for climate-smart practices.” The bill has broad support from over 60 leading agricultural and environmental organizations.

One such organization is Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, whose president, Dr. Dale McCall, said, "Agricultural producers on our western landscapes have the ability to positively impact great swaths of land and improve water holding capacity to reduce the risk of extreme weather through climate-smart agriculture … (The) Growing Climate Solutions Act will connect family farmers and ranchers to critical resources and technical assistance to engage in emerging carbon and ecosystem service markets. This is a way forward to prevent, mitigate and sequester greenhouse gases and to give family-based agriculture an active role in creating a healthier future for us all.” 

Clearly, farmers can play a major role in mitigating climate change by better stewardship of the earth. They are also the heart of America's food supply and have suffered as COVID-19 has disrupted how we get food to our tables. This legislation can financially help producers in Colorado and across the country while incentivizing them to make their operations more sustainable. In an era of hyper-divisiveness in Congress, I am happy to see Sen. Bennet work across the aisle to reintroduce this important bill, which needs our support to be realized!