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Sep 16, 2022
House Ag Committee holds hearing on soil health, regenerative agriculture practices

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on soil health and regenerative ag practices Sept. 14.

Witnesses included Jeff Moyer, CEO of the Rodale Institute, an organization dedicated to organic agriculture research.

“(America’s food system) is too reliant on unstable foreign supply chains, chemical inputs and government subsidies for foods that aren’t nutritious for your constituents or profitable for American farming families,” Moyer said. “Conventional agriculture models are also degrading American farmland.

“We have the tools and the time to fix this and set our farms on a positive track, and regenerative organic agriculture is our path forward.”

Ken McCarty, a dairy farmer at McCarty Family Farms in Kansas, sells milk to Danone North America for yogurt products. He addressed the committee on changes his organization have made over the years.

“Practices such as cover crops, reduced tillage, improved nutrient management and excellent animal care practices under one coherent vision can optimize the performance and sustainability of our farms,” he said.

McCarty also told the committee about the challenges of changing production methods.

“When considering USDA conservation programs, budgets are just one barrier to greater adoption. Challenges, such as EQIP backlogs, rigid contract structures, cumbersome applications and burdensome follow-up reporting, create additional strain,” he said. McCarty added that Danone offers financing and incentives to his organization for regenerative implementation.

Other witnesses included Steve Nygren, founder of Serenbe, a “wellness” community in Georgia that integrates agriculture, housing and retail, cattle farmer Rick Clark of Indiana, and Rebecca Larsen of the Western Sugar Cooperative in Denver.

Following the hearing, Ag Committee Chairman David Scott (D-Georgia) said soil health, or lack thereof, will have detrimental effects on our food supply and the economy.

“Supporting our soil health is nothing new for the Federal government,” Scott said. “The hard lessons our industry and country learned through the Dust Bowl led to the creation of the Soil Conservation Service – now the Natural Resources Conservation Service. We cannot ignore the importance of soil health in this way again. As we face ever-growing climate challenges, managing soil health is one of the most effective ways farmers can increase crop productivity and profitability while protecting natural resources.”

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