March 20, 2024

Food – a basic need

Food is universal. We all think about it daily – grocery lists, cravings, meal prep – it’s constant. But on top of the what, we must also think about the how. How is my food being produced? Where did it come from? What food options do I even have access to? Many young people are already asking themselves these questions, and the answers are only getting more important with climate change. 

Climate change and food systems

Extreme weather threatens food production cycles, and by extension, what food we each have access to. And as extreme weather events become more rampant, it’s increasingly important that farmers have the resources they need to integrate climate smart agriculture practices to ensure our communities have a reliable food supply. The good news is, farmers across the country are already working to implement sustainable practices! 

Food insecurity

According to a study from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, one in four young adults in 2020 faced food insecurity, with Gen Z adults being twice as likely. This makes securing equitable access to affordable, climate resilient and healthy food a personal issue for our generation. 

Enter, Climate Smart Ag

So, what is climate-smart agriculture and how can it help? Climate smart agricultural practices have been around for centuries. Things like crop rotation, conservation tillage, land management and much more are all ways farmers can mitigate climate effects. These practices set our communities up for the future by helping address food insecurity and climate change. Just like we work in our community gardens to build a healthy environment and nourish our communities, we can put those same practices to work on a larger scale. 

 Investing in our future

Thankfully, this is already happening. Young people worked hard to advocate for climate solutions in 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which put billions of dollars toward climate smart agriculture practices among other climate incentives and programs. However, our work doesn’t stop there. Congress is currently re-authorizing the Farm Bill – a once-every-five-year law that sets the path for the U.S.’s farming and nutrition programs. This year, some in Congress want to use this money, dedicated for climate-smart agriculture, for other programs. To protect this money for its intended purposes, Congress needs to hear from you.  

 Get loud!

We need to defend our hard work and tell our representatives to protect investments in climate smart agriculture from the IRA, which added nearly $20 billion to four key farm bill conservation programs. This funding also provides financial and technical assistance to farmers who wish to voluntarily adopt new practices that improve environmental outcomes such as soil health, water quality, water quantity and biodiversity. 

A better future, together

As we build a brighter future, we must ensure everyone has access to nutritious food and a safe environment. Not only will the farm bill help curb climate pollution by protecting investments in climate-smart agriculture, but it will also provide critical resources for those most vulnerable in our communities, including students, to gain equitable food access.