Minnesota Farmers Push for Comprehensive Climate & Food System Infrastructure Policy During Fly-ins

LSP Members Call for Passage of Agriculture Resilience Act

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — During a series of virtual fly-ins that wrapped up last week, Land Stewardship Project (LSP) farmer-members called on Minnesota’s Congressional agriculture leaders to support infrastructure legislation that would create a more resilient food and farming system. During the past two weeks, farmers have been meeting with U.S. Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar, as well as U.S. Representatives Angie Craig, Michelle Fischbach, and Jim Hagedorn. These lawmakers are all members of their respective Congressional agriculture committees, giving Minnesota an outsized role in shaping federal farm policy.

A focus of the fly-in meetings has been discussions around how infrastructure legislation being considered by Congress can support agricultural systems that create climate smart soil while building thriving rural economies in the long term.

“Regenerative agriculture, local food and smaller local processing facilities can make a difference,” said LSP member Jon Jovaag, who raises crops and livestock near Austin, Minn. “If we want to make a difference in soil health, climate change and improved rural economies, we need to stop investing in systems that don’t work and start investing in the ones that do.”

LSP has been participating in these meetings as a member of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment. A key proposal being pushed by the farmers is the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), a comprehensive climate and food system bill recently introduced in Congress that would expand investment in conservation programs that support the type of crop and livestock farming practices that build soil health.

LSP members underlined the importance of not advancing climate policy that props up big agribusiness by, for example, investing in methane digesters for factory livestock facilities and building a complex carbon market system that benefits large-scale operations while letting fossil fuel polluters off the hook.

Participants in the fly-ins also pushed for development of the kind of food system required for long-term economic support of regenerative farming systems. For example, the Strengthening Local Processing Act (SLPA) creates a new grant program for small meat processing plants to meet state and federal inspection guidelines and expand processing capacity. It has become clear during the COVID-19 pandemic that access to local meat processing is key if farmers are to successfully implement climate-friendly livestock grazing practices and access profitable markets. Systems that provide safe, fair conditions for food workers are also critical, said fly-in participants.

“Smart policies like the SLPA and the Agriculture Resilience Act form the scaffold to build back rural infrastructure in communities across the country while ensuring good stewardship of land, air and water resources,” said LSP member Dana Seifert, who farms near Jordan, Minn. “We’d like to see these bills make it into the American Jobs Plan because this is the kind of economic rejuvenation rural communities need.”

The Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project works to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture and to develop healthy communities. It has offices in the Minnesota communities of Lewiston, Montevideo and south Minneapolis.