Boyd makes case for regenerative farming

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Jul. 30—WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Lumbee Tribe's Kara Boyd recently advocated for federal recognition of her tribe and regenerative agricultural practices before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Environment.

Rep. Ro Khanna, chair of the committee, held a hearing to examine regenerative agriculture, the role it can play in preventing the worst of a climate crisis while protecting food supply, and the need to reform federal policies that "unjustly favor corporate agribusiness, often at the expense of family farmers," according to a release.

Regenerative agriculture uses a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems.

"Climate change poses serious threats to food security," Khanna said. "With regenerative agriculture, farmers will be paid to be a key part of the solution to the climate crisis. Regenerative practices can lower carbon emissions, provide environmental benefits like clean water, and rebuild farming communities and economies. No one knows what's best for the land better than the farmers who work on it day in and day out."

Boyd is the founder and president of the Association of American Indian Farmers, a national organization that provides outreach, advocacy and technical assistance across Indian Country, according to its website.

"We need science, technology, indigenous wisdom, and holistic thinking working together to move us toward regeneration," Boyd explained in her opening statement. "Building back soil health is the most cost-effective federal investment we can make at this time. From risk-mitigation, to farmer prosperity, to human health, to carbon sequestration, it is a win-win for all."

Members and witnesses discussed the threat climate change poses to food security and how regenerative agricultural practices can help reduce the desertification of farmland and prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis.

In addition to Boyd, the subcommittee heard testimony from Bonnie Haugen, a dairy farmer from Filmore County, Minnesota; Doug Doughty, a grain farmer and cattle producer from Livingston, Missouri; Dr. Rachel E. Schattman, assistant professor of Sustainable Agriculture, University of Maine.

Members and witnesses highlighted the unfair market power that corporate agribusinesses hold and how it limits the freedom of small- and medium-sized farmers to adopt regenerative agriculture practices.

Members and witnesses discussed why Congress must amend federal policies that unjustly protect corporate agribusiness, often at the expense of family farmers, and fully fund farm conservation programs.

"Too many farmers and ranchers are turned away when they seek Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) assistance due to limited funding or burdensome restrictions," Boyd testified. "At the same time, significant amounts of CSP and EQIP funding is being spent on practices that do not rebuild soil health or ecological function, reduce emissions or sequester carbon.

"Consistently, EQIP funds are used to support concentrated animal feeding operations leading to detrimental environmental impacts while also effectively preventing small-scale and pasture-based livestock producers from accessing funds."