A KY Push for Regenerative Farming in Next Farm Bill

by Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service

People’s wallets continue to feel the impact of high food prices, and local environmental groups say sustainable food systems and regenerative farming are solutions that deserve support in the next Farm Bill. Lawmakers are currently at work shaping the legislation to replace the current Farm Bill, enacted in 2018 and set to expire this fall.

Hank Grady, a member of the Sierra Club Kentucky Chapter, explained relative to many other states, Kentucky is home to a large number of farmers working on more than 75,000 farms across the state, and said many producers are looking to transition away from the industrial farming model.

“We believe that in the short run and the long run, this will provide a better alternative and a healthier product than the industrial alternative,” he continued.

According to the Sierra Club, certain soils also are effective at capturing carbon, but excessive tillage, overgrazing, erosion and overuse use of fertilizers in industrial farming have depleted their ability to reduce greenhouse gases and lessen the impact of climate change.

Grady said efforts to improve water quality have largely been left out of industrial agriculture, and added while the state’s Agriculture Water Quality Authority is an innovative program, it has not gone far enough to help implement sustainable practices that keep local waterways pollution-free and provide healthy food.

“We would like to see it amended, so it not only attempts to protect water quality in Kentucky from agricultural pollution, but also protects soil and helps farmers build a healthier soil system – one that is not heavily reliant on chemicals and monoculture,” he said.

According to the CDC, concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOS, poorly managed application of pesticides, irrigation water, fertilizer, overgrazing and overworking the land can all result in contaminated waterways.

References:  Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 Congressional Budget Office 12/11/2018

Since 1996, Public News Service has pioneered a model of member-supported journalism to engage, educate and advocate for the public interest. By combining legacy and new media, we reach audiences across geographic and political divides.

Disclosure: Sierra Club contributes to Public News Service‘s fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

Photo: An agricultural field with a wood barn in a rural area of Kentucky. (Adobe Stock)