Inspiration, Innovation, and Gearing Up for the 2023 Farm Bill!
CISA’s Climate Program has been up and running for nearly a year and a half now and in that short time span we have been both inspired by the innovation and perseverance of farmers in our region and alarmed by how quickly, and often severely, the impacts of climate change are affecting them.
We will never forget the photos of flooded fields sent to us by Dave’s Natural Garden during the epic rainfalls of 2021 and the accompanying message of desperation that went something like “We’ve lost about 80% of our farmable land to this rain, it’s enough to make us throw in the towel … or tractor!”
On the other hand, Lincoln Fishman at Sawyer Farm sent us photos of market-ready brassicas thrusting up among perennial White Clover last summer, in the middle of a drought. Like many growers, he’s trying to figure out how to optimize soil health, reduce erosion, grow food, and get a fair price all at once–while also working to share information and strategies with other growers in a way that might convince other farms to do the same.
Providing direct technical support on climate change adaptation to farms like Dave’s Natural Garden and Sawyer Farm is one of the most important ways CISA’s Climate Program can help. Our conversations and collaborations with members of the farming community certainly have their fair share of head-shaking and hand-wringing about the changing climate, but we also hear and see in action creative ideas, valuable experience, and specific questions that we can help answer.
This Climate Change & Farming Bulletin shares another round of resources for local farm and food businesses addressing the local impacts of climate change. While you’ll find a diversity of news, research, and events, there are two topics in particular that we’d like to call your attention to this time around.
The first is the 2023 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill governs much of the federal government’s food, nutrition, and emergency food policy and it’s up for renewal every five years. There is a lot to do to make sure that the bill includes new and larger provisions to help farms of all shapes and sizes adapt to climate change and increase access to fresh, locally grown produce for all types of communities. You’ll find several resources and opportunities related to the Farm Bill in this edition; we hope you’ll get involved in encouraging our legislators to advocate for programs appropriate for increasing the climate resiliency of farms here in the Northeast.
Second, in response to what we have learned this past year and the wealth of programs and organizations starting to come on line to support the transition to landscape level sustainability, CISA will be launching an online Climate Change & Farming Resource Hub this Spring, brimming with easy-access information on a wide array of climate change adaptation resources for local farm and food businesses, from grants to technical assistance to risk management. We’ve reviewed mountains of available resources and picked those we think are most useful to our food system here in Western Mass and central New England. Keep your eyes peeled for the hub launch and if you have suggestions for additional materials to include, send the it our way to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for checking out the bulletin, we are in this together and CISA is here to help!
CISA Climate Program Coordinator
413-665-7100 ext. 17.