On Nature: Agriculture and Climate


The mechanism that can cause climate change has been known for over a hundred years. It is the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Today greenhouse gas concentrations are increasing, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels. Although in the past the effects of climate change were hard to quantify or even acknowledge, this is no longer the case. We are experiencing dramatic increases in extreme storms, drought, and wildfires that are caused by global warming.

In response to this and other needs, the Inflation Reduction Act (which, according to most Republicans, will not reduce inflation) was passed. It includes $369 billion to combat climate change. Nearly $40 billion of this is directed to agriculture, according to Allen Guebert’s recent Op-Ed in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, with climate-smart agriculture being a major recipient.

With this much money flowing to agriculture, farmers have a large role in reducing climate change. As Guebert states, farmers consider themselves “the first environmentalists.” They have a great opportunity to demonstrate this by implementing the measures in the bill. Included are funds for expanded use of cover crops, planting new acres of perennial grasses, and the development of whole farm conservation plans. Let’s do it.

David Voigts is a retired ecologist and the current Conservation Chair for the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society. He is a Tama County native, graduating from Dinsdale High School, and lives in rural Jesup on his wife’s family farm.