Mar 25, 2021
Sustainability takes many forms

Last fall, an alliance of groups representing farmers, forest owners, the food sector, state governments and environmental advocates unveiled a set of recommendations to guide the development of federal climate policy.

Gary Pullano
Gary Pullano, editor of Vegetable Growers News

The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) was formed in February 2020 by four groups that now co-chair the alliance: American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and National Farmers Union. The alliance has since expanded to include FMI – The Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and The Nature Conservancy.

Together, the group developed more than 40 recommendations based on three principles: agricultural and forestry climate policies must be built upon voluntary, incentive-based programs and market-driven opportunities; they must promote resilience and adaptation in rural communities; and they must be science-based.

Climate policies will impact farmers, forest owners, ranchers, rural and limited resources communities, wildlife and natural resources and must be thoughtfully crafted to account for any potential inequities, consequences and tradeoffs, the group stated.

“We are proud to have broken through historical barriers to form this unique alliance focused on climate policy,” Zippy Duvall, FACA co-chair and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said at the time of the group’s formation.

“We began discussions not knowing whether we would ultimately reach agreement. It was important to me to reject punitive climate policy ideas of the past in favor of policies that respect farmers and support positive change. Our final recommendations do just that.”

“More resilient farms and forests protect the agricultural economy, reduce risk from the climate impacts that are already here and help prevent worsening climate impacts in the future,” said FACA co-chair Chuck Conner, president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

“Much as a farmer co-op gets its strength from uniting many producers to achieve a single goal, so too does FACA. Through FACA, the food, forestry and agriculture sectors can speak with a single voice on climate and, leveraging the unique perspectives and special talents of its members, help drive the conversation about the role that the food, forestry and agriculture sector can play in addressing climate policy.”

“Climate change is adding another enormous variable to the already unpredictable work of farming. Every year, farmers face more frequent and severe weather events, making it just that much harder to make a profit. There are concrete actions farmers can take to build resilience to weather extremes and pull carbon out of the atmosphere, but they need strong policy behind them,” said Rob Larew, FACA co-chair and president of National Farmers Union.

Read the full recommendations at They cover six areas of focus: soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research, and food loss and waste.

The newest award to come from the Vegetable Growers News parent company, Great American Media Services, the Specialty Grower Sustainability Award seeks to recognize a grower or farming operation that has put in major efforts to improve sustainability in their operation. The efforts can be reflected in several categories, including waste water management, soil health, climate control labor, advocacy and more.

Any growers or farming operations who have taken significant steps to improve sustainability in their agricultural practices can be nominated. Nominees will be judged based on: Innovative Thinking, Execution, Impact/Results and Leadership in the Industry. Sustainability in agriculture is a priority for Valent U.S.A., the sponsor of the inaugural Specialty Grower Sustainability Award.

Valent’s sponsorship of this award is its way of helping to support growers as they take the next incremental step toward increasing the sustainability and preservation of their operation, whether that’s adopting conservation tillage practices, improved utilization of IPM or looking to reduce food waste on the farm.

To submit a nomination for the Sustainability award, visit

The last day for nominations will be April 16, 2021.

— Gary Pullano, editor

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