New York Congresswoman and socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC to the tabs), along with a group of other Democrats in Congress, last week released the framework for a 10-year plan to fight climate change.
Agriculture figures prominently in the scheme.
If enacted, the “Green New Deal” would reorder all aspects of life in the United States in ways that would have made even the most ambitious Soviet central planners blanch.
The stated purpose of the Green New Deal is to mobilize the country’s resources to fight climate change in much the same way the country mobilized to fight World War II. It seeks to achieve “net-zero” greenhouse emissions in 10 years and eventually eliminate all fossil fuels and nuclear power.
It requires the upgrading of all existing buildings to achieve maximum efficiency and a complete overhaul of the transportation system that includes the conversion to all-electric vehicles, the expansion of public transportation, the development of high-speed rail and the elimination of air travel.
For good measure it also guarantees universal single-payer health care and a living-wage union job for everyone — or at least for those “willing” to work.
Farming, which is blamed for 9 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, would also be transformed.
The resolution establishing the framework says one of the ways the plan’s goals will be reached is by working “collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible, including — by supporting family farming; by investing in sustainable farming and land use practices that increase soil health; and by building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food.”
The 14-page resolution is short on specifics, though a fact sheet released (and later withdrawn) with the document says that agriculture must be overhauled and alludes to the need to “get rid of farting cattle.”
Fellow travelers who support the resolution are filling in the blanks. Think tanks are proposing New Deal-era supply management systems and parity pricing to provide a farming “minimum wage.” Others rail against, but do not define, “industrial agriculture.” Large dairies, also undefined, and “factory” meat farms would be taboo.
Others envision that the owners of large farms could get by on smaller plots given parity pricing, and would sell, rent or otherwise transfer the rest of their holdings to hired hands or to others who want to farm — a modern “40 acres and a mule” proposal, perhaps literally because it’s unclear how a farm would be worked except with draft animals.
It appears the Democratic leadership of the House does not intend to put the resolution up to a vote. But that doesn’t mean it is dead.
Farmers, whose livelihoods and property are on the line, are right to be wary of the possibilities. And the American people, who are the beneficiary of bountiful and inexpensive food, should be careful to embrace the massive overhaul of the industry that provides that bounty without knowing the details.