State plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions harmful to farmers
Unfortunately, California’s approach to establishing mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has left agriculture to become collateral damage.
By Jamie Johansson, Special at CalMatters
Jamie Johansson is the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, [email protected] He is a producer of olive trees and citrus fruits in Oroville.
We can never say it enough; California’s agriculture industry is the lifeblood of this great state – our producers provide food for your families and the world. As we hear so often during this pandemic, agriculture and farming are essential.
Yet we face unprecedented obstacles in growing and producing the foods you buy at the grocery store or at the farmers’ market. Many challenges are the result of climate change. We all know its impacts too well.
Our member farmers strive to be good partners and stewards of the land in tackling climate change, leading our industry to make significant strides in growing more with less water, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse and limiting the environmental impact of producing enough food for people to eat.
We have also increased carbon capture on natural and cultivated agricultural land using better tillage and soil practices; which helps offset the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere each year. In fact, the most successful greenhouse effect reduction program on a dollar per tonne basis is the Dairy Digester Program which traps methane and transforms it into electricity or renewable natural gas.
Unfortunately, the approach of the California administration and legislative leaders to establish mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has left agriculture to become collateral damage rather than a meaningful partner in achieving them.
Sacramento’s leadership continues to be hyper-focused on reducing greenhouse gases rather than promoting other means of reducing carbon, such as carbon capture. All the tools and technologies at our disposal to fight climate change must be on the table, we cannot afford otherwise.
For example, going from 40% reductions to 90% emission reductions, such as Assembly Bill 1395 would require, is too large not to be fully cooked. That leaves only 10% for carbon capture to achieve emissions neutrality, but what if we could do more to offset carbon during the transition?
Additionally, the California Air Resources Board is mostly left to fend for itself when implementing political mandates like AB 1395, introduced by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat from Torrencer. Right now, the Air Resources Board is even considering making energy use more expensive for everyone to reduce travel and ultimately emissions. The scathing report released by the California State Auditor on CARB makes it clear that they need more oversight and transparency.
When the administration sets arbitrary climate goals, like a ban on the traditional gasoline engine by 2035, without proper infrastructure or other investments, it ends up crushing the small farms it so proudly touts – we’ve lost. 400 small farms in California in 2020, 2021 numbers will be worse. Rural areas are particularly affected because they lack the necessary infrastructure to make drastic changes in energy use.
Ultimately, producers are paid less for their products because processors foot the bill for significant overhead costs to meet new energy policies. The big farms are in trouble, but it is the small farm that is forced to go out of business.
California cannot sell itself as a tech stronghold while deciding on a tunnel vision for our energy future, especially when political decisions are disproportionately paid for by low-income communities or the disadvantaged small producer. It is common knowledge that living and doing business in California is expensive. Everyone feels that this burden is growing from our energy bills to our grocery bills as a direct result of hastily undercooked energy policies.
Reducing our carbon footprint and our emissions cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. Californians deserve more responsibility and oversight of these expensive energy policies and mandates, and their execution by the California Air Resources Board.