Iowa farmers who attended the “COP 26” climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland say agriculture is finally being welcomed to the discussions.
Ray Gaesser of Ankeny represented the group, “Solutions from the Land,” as one of the nearly 40,000 official participants. Gaesser says after years of fighting to get into the meetings, farmers are being given a seat at the table.
“We’re having a presence finally of agriculture at the UN meetings,” Gaesser says. “The climate discussion started out ten or 15 years ago with no agriculture involved and it’s really important that we share our story and how we will make a difference for the climate and still feed people.”
U.S.D.A. officials contacted the group prior to the 26th annual COP, or Conference of the Parties, asking members to meet with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Gaesser says they provided input on how agriculture can help to slow climate change.
“The message that U.S.D.A. is sharing has been the message that we’ve had from Solutions from the Land for several years, about farmers being a part of the solution,” he says, “that one-size-fits-all regulations are inadequate, that we are very diverse in agriculture, not only within our state but within our nation.”
Gaesser says agriculture is utilizing nature’s energy sources in solar and wind as well as biofuels. He hopes those elements will be integrated into U.S.D.A.’s climate change mitigation and a possible climate bank.
“We have made an impact because their message is very similar to what ours is,” he says. “It’s about agriculture being part of the solution. It’s about farmers making a difference and providing opportunities, and it’s about all the innovations that we’re doing in agriculture in the United States.”
Still, he says farmers at COP 26 faced more aggressive anti-meat rhetoric about how methane emissions from livestock globally have grown over time and production should be eliminated. Gaesser says much of the animal agriculture message was just not accurate.
(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)