Washington, DC – Last week, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced the Cultivating Organic Matter through the Promotion Of Sustainable Techniques (COMPOST) Act (H.R. 6023), which would add composting as a conservation practice for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs, like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

“The agriculture sector currently contributes about nine percent of the United States’ total greenhouse gas emissions,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “However, there are opportunities to make agriculture a net negative emissions sector, which would  greatly help us tackle the growing climate crisis. 

“One of the ways we can do this is by helping farmers transition to environmentally friendly conservation practices, including composting. My home state of California has already recognized the value of composting in improving soil health and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and this bill would encourage more composting nationwide. This bill would be a win-win for farmers, the agriculture sector, and the environment, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move it forward.”

“When food scraps end up in landfills, they produce methane gas and contribute to the climate crisis,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “Composting is a great way to divert food from landfills while contributing rich organic matter to the future growth of new fruits and vegetables. Farmers understand the benefits of composting and they should receive funding to support their work to help us all mitigate the causes of climate change. I’m proud to join Rep. Brownley as an original cosponsor of the COMPOST Act, which will recognize the importance of composting as a conservation practice and empower the growth of the sector.”

“The science is clear – compost production reduces greenhouse gas emissions and its application is a great soil health-promoting practice for farmers,” said Eric Deeble, Policy Director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Committee.  “To date, however, the management of compost production and on-farm application has not been granted conservation practice status by USDA and farmers have not therefore been able to receive assistance for this soil health practice through the farm bill’s conservation programs.  H.R. 6023 corrects this unfortunate oversight. We applaud Representative Brownley for this important climate-smart and farmer-friendly bill and commit to working to see it adopted into law as soon as possible.”

“Compost on agricultural lands is a great tool in the toolbox for farmers wanting to improve their soils and be ready for droughts and floods,” said Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director with the California Climate and Agriculture Network. “Representative Brownley’s bill is a much needed climate fix to USDA farm bill programs that will give farmers access to an affordable and effective climate solution to keep their farms productive and more resilient in the face of a changing climate.” 

Background

Through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) conservation programs, like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), farmers can receive federal funding and technical assistance if they voluntarily seek to adopt approved conservation practices. Some of these approved conservation practices include cover crops and no-till systems. Composting is currently not eligible for federal funding or assistance.

Composting is one of the most environmentally friendly means of disposing food waste and other organic wastes. Not only does composting emit a smaller quantity of greenhouse gases compared to alternative disposal methods, it also yields a valuable soil additive that enhances soil health, which in turn makes the soil a better absorber of carbon, while also making the land more resilient to climate change-fueled disasters like wildfires and floods.

The Cultivating Organic Matter through the Promotion Of Sustainable Techniques (COMPOST) Act would add composting as a conservation practice for USDA conservation programs. Both the act of producing compost from organic waste and using compost on a farm would qualify as a conservation practice.

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