Agriculture is a critically important industry to our region and our state. Agriculture in the north state has every potential to grow, diversify, become more profitable, and simultaneously restore the environment. I grew up farming, participating in 4-H and FFA, and I earned my degrees in agriculture. I know firsthand that our producers take risks that most business folks wouldn’t imagine. Farmers and ranchers work long hours amidst one of the most volatile economic eras for commodities in modern history. They are society’s chief stewards of the land, and they produce the bounty of amazing local nutrient-dense foods that we in the northstate are so blessed to enjoy. They are our heroes and I want them supported as such.
The farmers and ranchers who manage our soils are our best hope in combating climate change. I believe that climate change is the single largest threat facing humanity and life as we know it. Whether it has been designing educational tools to help policymakers understand and monitor greenhouse gas emissions, teaching our local university students about reducing food waste, or working with smallholder farmers in Central America and West Africa, I have spent my career as an ag educator focusing on making agriculture better for all those involved, from the producer to the consumer.
I believe that agriculture can and must have a net positive impact on our environment. This idea is known as “regenerative agriculture” and aims to go beyond sustainability. Research shows that proper soil management will actually reverse climate change. Through photosynthesis plants pull carbon out of our atmosphere and down into the soil, where it becomes a source of fertility and increases the productivity of our land. Farmers and ranchers unlock this drawdown potential through the way that they manage their land and the practices that they implement.
Carbon farming, as it’s often called, needs to be at the center of a holistic approach that includes transitioning to renewable energy, reducing waste, and cultivating stable markets for producers that pay them fairly for their risk and ingenuity. A comprehensive policy approach to investing in our soil and addressing climate change will help create economic vitality in agriculture, and new jobs and industries related to clean energy and regenerative practices.
When I am elected, I will work tirelessly to facilitate public-private-partnerships to open up new markets and cultivate premiums for our producers. I will encourage multi-stakeholder initiatives to further develop: value-added local processing opportunities, available cold storage, as well as trucking and community delivery options. I support bills like the PRIME Act to bring common sense solutions back to rural processing. I will further fight to get infrastructure dollars invested in north state roads, waterways, as well as cellular and internet communications, which will improve the ability of our citizens to do business in rural areas. I will fight for legislation and a farm bill that supports family farmers, and helps all producers make the transition to organic and regenerative practices.
With the right support initiatives in place, our farmers and ranchers can help us bring positive solutions to human health, rural economies, clean and abundant watersheds, wildlife habitat, and climate change.
My priorities for agriculture include:
Create opportunities to further differentiate our amazing north state growers with premiums in the marketplace
Support growers with local processing and necessary infrastructure to increase production of value-added products, reduce food waste, and keep more dollars and jobs local to our district
Reduce the regulatory burden on farmers and ranchers by supporting innovative projects that increase conservation and environmental outcomes while streamlining regulatory processes
Invest in expanded technical assistance to farmers to implement conservation practices through increases of funding to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and base funding for resource conservation districts
Partner with federal, state, and local agencies to invest in migrant farmworker housing to provide critical support to the agricultural labor force by increasing overall worker health, dignity, and retention
Promote grazing as an important management tool for our public lands and support continued access to public lands
Promote soil-based carbon credits and carbon reduction markets to mitigate climate change while creating new revenue streams for producers
Cultivate the region as a true agritourism destination
Develop opportunities for young farmers and ranchers in their ability to access land and capital. Additionally, provide training and implementation-support for sound succession planning
Invest in a soil-based approach to carbon drawdown that will simultaneously improve environmental health, reduce chemical inputs, maintain or improve farm productivity, and increase our resilience to droughts and other disasters caused by climate change.