October 23, 2020

Wyden Introduces Legislation to Improve Soil Health, Crop Resilience and Address the Climate Crisis

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today introduced legislation to help address the climate crisis by encouraging farming practices that improve soil health and crop resilience and lower the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

“In 2020 alone, the climate crisis has delivered devastating wildfires, severe droughts and floods that decimated crops and with them the livelihoods of countless family farmers in Oregon and nationwide,” Wyden said. “Tackling the climate crisis head on through smart farming practices is a must and a significant victory for both farmers and the environment.”

The Healthy Soils Healthy Climate Act builds on a 2018 Farm Bill provision authored by Wyden by creating a permanent soil health program through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program would provide $100 million to producers who adopt practices designed to improve soil health through increasing carbon levels in soil. By promoting farming practices that capture carbon in soil, producers will improve soil health and crop resilience, while lowering the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

The bill establishes protocols for measuring soil organic carbon levels before and after these practices begin in order to determine which farming practices store the most carbon. This is critical because there is a significant need for more science and data to determine which conservation methods are most effective at storing carbon in the soil to improve soil health. 

The Healthy Soils Healthy Climate Act will also establish a Soil Health and Carbon Science Research Program at Agriculture Research Stations that would provide grants to land-grant colleges and universities to conduct research relating to soil health and carbon science and conduct research relating to soil health and carbon science at Agriculture Research Stations of the Department of Agriculture.

“We appreciate the important funding this legislation will bring to the Soil Health Demonstration Trial and to facilitating farmers’ efforts to improve soil health and soil carbon sequestration. This bill helps farmers to be part of the climate solution. That makes sense for our planet and for our economy,” Sandra Purohit, Director of Federal Advocacy for E2, said.

Bill text can be found here.