The HVADC Cultivator
New York Climate Act Information Session
On April 25, HVADC leadership will help present an important webinar on the recently passed New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). HVADC is producing the event in partnership with the Hudson Valley Food Systems Coalition (HVFSC) and its Land and Agriculture Subcommittee, which is chaired by HVADC Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson. One of the most ambitious pieces of climate legislation in the country, the Climate Act will impact agribusiness in areas from manure management and soil health to energy, transportation, waste, and more. The Climate Act’s goal is to get the state of New York to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The information session will be held on April 25, from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. This is a free event, but registration is required here.
The virtual event, which is being coordinated by HVADC Program Associate Avalon Bunge, will include speakers from state government and agricultural leadership, with deep knowledge about the bill, including Former New York State Senator Jen Metzger, New York Farm Bureau Deputy Director of Public Policy Elizabeth Wolters, and Cornell University Associate Dean for Land-Grant Affairs Julie Suarez, with Johnson co-hosting with HVFSC founder Sarah Salem. This webinar will include an in-depth question-and-answer session, myth busting about what is and isn't in the CLCPA, and important ways for farmers to make their voices heard during the public comment period which is currently expected to end June 10.
HVFSC is a trans-disciplinary coalition of professionals from every area of the food system who have come together with the mission to realize a more equitable and regenerative food system in the Hudson Valley by connecting food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management practices while encouraging the use of our region's food resources to ensure the long-term health and sustainability of our community.
Anyone interested to learn more about the CLCPA, its section on Agriculture and Forestry, and how it will intersect with farming, agriculture businesses, and regional food production are encouraged to attend. Those with questions, concerns, or confusion about what the impact of the bill will be for their business will be provided detailed answers and clear instructions on how to submit an official comment, during the event.
“Our farmers are more in tune then anyone else with the growing impacts of climate change in the Hudson Valley. Changes in growing conditions and new pests have become the new normal,” said Johnson. “This bill is ambitious but takes seriously the responsibility we have to the future of our land. That’s why it’s really important that all of us, working in agriculture at every level, understand this legislation, what we need to do and how it can help.”
Agriculture accounts for just 4% of New York State greenhouse gas emissions and is therefore not a major priority for emissions reductions under the CLCPA. However, agriculture and forestry together have a unique and critical role to play in New York’s climate future: a role that no other sector can accomplish, namely, carbon sequestration.
To get New York State to net zero emissions by 2050, most sectors (transportation, buildings and electricity chief among them) must implement significant emissions reductions. For these sectors, reducing emissions is the only possible avenue to reduce their carbon footprint. There are some areas of agriculture that will also need to implement emissions reductions, primarily large conventional livestock operations that will need new manure and/or feed management techniques. However, the primary role for most farms under the CLCPA will not be to reduce their emissions, but rather to implement and scale up practices that sequester carbon.
Carbon dioxide is the most commonly produced greenhouse gas. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide back in the earth through agricultural practices. Increasing soil carbon is accomplished in various ways like reducing soil disturbance by switching to low-till or no-till practices. Additional methods include managed grazing patterns, changing planting schedules or rotations, planting cover crops or double crops instead of leaving fields fallow, as well as other options.
Net zero emissions in New York, as laid out in the CLCPA’s 2050 goal, does not mean that the state will stop burning carbon entirely. Instead, emissions will need to be reduced 85% from 1990 levels, and the remaining 15% of greenhouse gas emissions will need to be countered with in-state carbon sequestration. Currently, about 8% of New York’s emissions are being sequestered by natural processes within the state. This number will need to nearly double, in the face of ever-increasing development pressure and environmental threats such as invasive pests, and extreme weather. The agriculture and forestry sectors are the only sectors that can accomplish this in-state carbon sequestration goal. Thus, these areas are incredibly important to the CLCPA, despite not being the main sectors targeted for emissions reductions. Accordingly, it is critical for farmers’ voices to be heard during the public comment period.