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You may not have noticed it, but there is bipartisanship in Iowa. Democratic Congresswoman Cindy Axne and Republican Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley all support the Growing Climate Solutions Act. 

We can’t solve the problem of climate change without the help of Iowa farmers; they are problem solvers. Storing more carbon in our soil instead of emitting it into the air in the form of carbon dioxide or methane will help mitigate climate change — one small part of what needs to be a multi-pronged approach.

But it will do more than that. Soils rich in organic material hold water better, so widespread use of these practices in Iowa will reduce the problem of agricultural runoff that contaminates our drinking water and causes loss of precious topsoil. Storing more carbon will also allow our farmers to decrease their use of nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, all three of which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

This legislation will make it easier for Iowa’s farmers to get paid for increasing the carbon-content of their soil by adopting sustainable farming practices (many of those practices pioneered by Iowa farmers and by researchers at Iowa State and the University of Iowa).

As noted by the American Farm Bureau: “From climate-smart farming practices to voluntary management of forests, grasslands, wetlands and croplands, farmers are not only reducing their footprint, but also are actively absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. According to the EPA, land management practices alone removed 764 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere in 2018. That is equal to taking 165 million vehicles off the road for a year. The demand for carbon offsets from agriculture has grown significantly in recent years, but the process is still confusing and cumbersome, which then limits farmers’, ranchers’ and foresters’ participation.”

The Growing Climate Solutions Act, which the Farm Bureau supports, will make that process easier for farmers.

We at Iowa Citizens’ Climate Education/Citizens’ Climate Lobby are primarily focused on legislation pricing carbon emissions, but we also support the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Yes, more will be needed to address climate change and to help our farmers, but this is a step in the right direction. Take a break from calling your members of Congress to complain and, instead, call Senators Grassley and Ernst, and Congresswoman Axne, and thank them for their support of the Growing Climate Solutions Act!

Peter Rolnick lives in Iowa City and is the Iowa State Coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Education/Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He can be contacted at prolnick@icloud.com.

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