NCFC believes conservation programs should be locally driven and based on scientifically and economically sound practices and should recognize the unique nature of farmer cooperatives and production agriculture. We work to promote the value of farmer cooperatives in the context of the growing dialogue about social responsibility and sustainability.
Conservation and Environment
NCFC is involved with a wide variety of conservation and environmental issues from implementation of farm bill conservation programs to pesticide registrations to wetlands regulations. While the issues vary, our principles remain: NCFC believes conservation programs and environmental regulations should be locally driven and based on scientifically and economically sound practices and should recognize the unique nature of farmer cooperatives and production agriculture. Additionally, we work to promote the value of farmer cooperatives in the context of the growing dialogue about social responsibility and sustainability.
However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has multiple, aggressive regulatory and enforcement initiatives underway that ignore the role of states and affect nearly every aspect of U.S. agriculture. Water quality, air quality, pesticide use, and climate change are all subject to major actions, and farms and ranches of all sizes can expect to be affected.
- Encourage USDA to use public private partnerships to promote environmental stewardship, recognizing the unique role that farmer cooperatives can play as a part of the delivery system relating to environmental programs.
- Oppose environmental legislation or regulatory actions that cause adverse impacts to farmer-owned cooperatives and their farmer members, including increased costs of production, that hinder their ability to produce food, fuel, and fiber for the world.
- Support full funding for working lands conservation programs, including those that utilize voluntary, incentive-based conservation practices, to maximize conservation program benefits and better achieve important environmental objectives.
- Support efforts to ensure access to critically needed crop protection products for agriculture.
- Encourage Endangered Species Act reform that provides workable solutions for farmers and ranchers while protecting endangered species.
- Support regulation of pesticides that is science-based, transparent, and involves stakeholder engagement as codified in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), thereby ensuring that risk conclusions are as closely tied to real-world conditions as practicably possible. Further, support a fully funded Office of Pesticide Programs to ensure protection of human health and the environment.
- Support efforts to ensure producers participating in cost-share conservation programs can engage in opportunities in environmental services markets.
- Support implementation of science-based environmental policies while minimizing cost and regulatory burdens on farmer cooperatives and their member owners.
- Oppose expansion of the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act.
- Ensure any climate change initiative provides benefits and opportunities for farmer cooperatives without adding burdensome costs and regulations.
- Provide voluntary, incentive-based tools for farmers and ranchers to maximize the sequestration of carbon and the reduction of other greenhouse gas emissions and increase the resilience of the land. Support additional technical assistance measures to ensure producers can overcome barriers to adoption of practices that can lead to significant reduction of GHGs and improvements in soil health.
- Incentivize agricultural producers to prioritize climate-smart practices through an array of public and private sector tools, including transferable producer tax credits, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-administered Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative and the enhancement of existing USDA conservation programs.
- Support policies and practices that assist producers in participating in environmental services and voluntary carbon markets.
NCFC supports American agriculture and farmer cooperatives playing the maximum role possible in support of the U.S. attaining energy independence. Farmer cooperatives are vital players in this quest, which includes support for expanding markets for agriculture’s energy products and ensuring that co-ops and their producer members are able to capitalize on those market opportunities. Renewable energy sources, along with conservation, are important tools in securing a more affordable and accessible domestic renewable energy supply.
- Support legislative and regulatory action to meet U.S. and agriculture’s energy needs.
- Promote expanded infrastructure for and development and use of renewable fuels and other energy sources as part of a comprehensive energy policy to help meet U.S. agriculture and our nation’s energy needs.
- Support a consistent and reliable policy of renewable fuels incentives and other provisions encouraging production of renewable fuels. New approaches to federal investment in the renewable fuels industry should encourage innovation and market stability.
- Support voluntary policies promoting the development of technologies to further utilize manure as a feedstock to produce gas, fuel, or electricity, especially if these projects are cost-effective and provide an economic benefit to farmers and/or farmer-owned cooperatives.
- Recognize the importance of, and continuing role for, traditional energy sources, where the agriculture industry and rural America maintains a competitive cost structure for energy users.
- Promote affordable technology advances for cleaner utilization of fossil-based fuel sources.
- Incentivize farmers to reduce energy consumption, increase use of on-farm renewable energy, and make continued progress toward reducing the lifecycle GHG emissions of agriculture-based renewable energy. Achieve these objectives by expanding and revising energy programs administered by USDA and the U.S. Department of Energy, and by updating the analysis of GHG emissions under the Renewable Fuels Standard.
- Encourage the Department of Energy to use its authority under the Natural Gas Act to determine if LNG export contracts to non-free trade agreement countries are in the public interest.
- Ensure all cooperatives are eligible to participate in the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) regardless of size.