Last month a coalition of agricultural and environmental groups announced an historic alliance to recommend proposals to the Biden administration to address climate change.
The new Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, or FACA, brings together groups typically pitted against one another.
It’s exciting stuff, and the participants have reason to celebrate.
FACA was formed in February by four groups that co-chair the alliance: the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Environmental Defense Fund and National Farmers Union.
It was later joined by the Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and The Nature Conservancy.
“We’re proud to have broken through historic barriers to form a unique alliance,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said at a virtual press conference Nov. 17.
The goal, FACA’s leaders say, is to have a hand in climate policy on the front end rather than just fighting on the back end. This way, they say, farmers are less likely to get hurt.
“Our goal from the start was to be at the table with the policy development process, not sort of reacting after the fact,” Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, told the Capital Press.
Environmental groups that signed on were similarly impressed with the newfound fellowship and the progress that has been made.
“It’s been surprisingly cordial. There’s a lot more we could agree on than any of us thought we could,” Callie Eideberg, director of government relations at the Environmental Defense Fund, said.
FACA members have developed more than 40 climate policy recommendations to hand over to the Biden administration and Congress.
The coalition says the policies are all voluntary, incentive-based programs designed to simultaneously slow environmental degradation and support farmers.
That sounds good, and there’s no doubt that this is an unprecedented alliance. If ag interests can have a hand in crafting policy proposals before they become law, then the effort will be worthwhile.
A bit of skepticism might be in order.
No matter how many environmental groups join the alliance, there will always be one more that’s a little more hardcore outside the group that’s ready to file a challenge. The real test of a friendship will come when the lawsuits start flying.
Nonetheless, we support any effort that seeks common ground and better understanding between traditional adversaries. Dialogue is most often preferred to debate.
New friendships always require a leap of faith. But we suggest all parties enter the alliance with arms, and eyes, wide open.