Food and Beverage Companies Want the Build Back Better Framework's Climate-smart Agriculture Investments

Nov 11, 2021 11:05 AM ET

By Chris Adamo, Vice President Government Affairs, Policy & Partnerships at Danone North America, and Steve Fechheimer, Chief Executive Officer at New Belgium Brewing

As leading companies in the food and beverage industry, we know that agriculture sits at the crux of the climate crisis. Our farming partners are increasingly threatened by drought, floods, fires, high temperatures, and other severe impacts of climate change. At the same time, this part of our economy contributes 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and many commonplace farming practices exacerbate the threat to our food systems.

However, we also know that our farms and forests can be a critical part of the solution while benefiting farmers economically. These natural climate solutions are crucial to reducing carbon in the atmosphere and to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the key benchmark scientists agree will prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis. They are also especially valuable in the near-term, as other sectors like transportation and power transition to a carbon-free future.

America’s farmers should be lifted up as the climate leaders we know them to be. That’s why we are thrilled to see that the Build Back Better Act includes unprecedented new investments to unlock this opportunity.

The Build Back Better framework includes $27 billion to implement climate-smart agriculture and conservation programs, $2 billion for agricultural research, $27 billion to restore and maintain forest health, and over $18 billion toward rural development. Importantly for farmers and food companies, the funding includes $7.5 billion to develop public-private partnerships that will improve supply chains.

Overall, the funds would set forth the largest investment in conservation since the Dust Bowl, positioning our farms and forests as critical frontlines against a crisis that grows more dire by the day. Regenerative farming — which includes agricultural practices that reduce emissions such as nitrous oxide and methane, while storing more carbon in the soil — also creates additional ecological benefits, such as improved soil health, wildlife biodiversity, and water quality. These practices also promise long-term economic benefits for farmers, including crops and soil that are more resilient to extreme weather, reduced operating costs, and new opportunities to participate in carbon markets.

Regenerative farming is important for our industry, and this investment will grow further  adoption across agriculture. It will help the companies who have already adopted regenerative practices, like Danone North America and New Belgium Brewing, to further scale these initiatives, while attracting new companies to leverage their private investments into more sustainable agriculture and emission reduction initiatives across our industry’s supply chains. Our companies have taken meaningful steps to invest in farmers that are connected to our supply chains, and we are planning further action in the coming years to meet science-based emissions reduction targets. The Build Back Better Act presents more access to funding to support farms of all sizes and types, whether or not they are engaged in a supply chain sustainability strategy.

As lawmakers advance the Build Back Better Act in the coming days, we urge them to maintain these investments in the final package — not only to ensure that our farms, forests, and food systems are protected from the climate crisis, but to take advantage of their tremendous potential to combat it.