Presidential Candidates Release Statements on Organic Agriculture & Climate Change

Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg submitted written responses to Organic Farmers Association addressing ag policy, soil, and organic fraud.

Organic Farmers Association (OFA) has received responses from two presidential candidates following its recent forum, “Combating Climate Change with Organic and Regenerative Agriculture,” held in Story City, Iowa on December 5, 2019. The forum was attended by Senator Bernie Sanders, who spoke to a crowd of 50 organic farmers and fielded questions.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg submitted written responses to the questions posed by organic farmers at the event. Their responses have been posted in full here.

Each candidate identified the need for the government to provide incentives to farmers to introduce regenerative practices that can help combat global issues like climate change.

“As president,” said Warren’s response, “I will lead a full-out effort to decarbonize the agricultural sector and rebuild our soil and water by paying farmers for using sustainable farming practices, expanding research and development in regenerative techniques, and building demand for locally-grown, sustainable farm products.”

Buttigieg referenced his climate change plan and the place that carbon sequestration in soil holds within that framework.

“My administration will also improve soil health and promote policies to keep our environment safe and healthy,” Buttigieg stated. “I will provide opportunities for farmers to get paid for sequestering carbon in their soil, including through reduced and no tillage of soil, cover crops, precision nitrogen management, improved grazing systems, and science-based crop rotation plans.” However, they differ on the specific strategies their administrations would utilize to increase the implementation of regenerative agriculture across the United States.

Warren expressed the need for reinvestment in land grant universities in particular to shift their research focus to “evaluating farmers’ ideas to decarbonize the agricultural sector, including on breeds, seeds, and methods of farming that will empower us to meet benchmarks in the Green New Deal.”

Buttigieg instead focused on organic integrity and consumer faith in the organic label.

“Continued growth in and demand for organic foods by consumers is an incredibly important part of the agricultural and rural economies,” said his response. “I understand—as any Secretary of Agriculture in my administration will also understand–that the relationship to the consumer is absolutely critical for organic markets to succeed.”

Both candidates state they will commit to hiring a Secretary of Agriculture that supports regenerative organic agriculture.

Sanders’ identification of regenerative organic agriculture as a major topic in 2020 election policy, as well as the remaining candidates’ absence, made significant news following the forum. While all Democratic presidential candidates were invited to speak at the Iowa event, which was jointly hosted by Organic Farmers Association and Iowa Organic Association and featured a Q&A with certified organic Iowa farmers, Senator Bernie Sanders was the only candidate to attend in person.

Watch Bernie Sanders’ Remarks Here

Organic Farmers Association is sponsored by Rodale Institute, a nonprofit widely recognized as the global leader in regenerative organic agriculture. While both Organic Farmers Association and Rodale Institute do not endorse candidates for office, their missions are focused on growing the regenerative organic movement in the policy sphere and beyond.

The candidates’ eagerness to respond to organic farmers’ questions solidifies regenerative organic agriculture as a new and influential policy topic in the 2020 election, as voters are facing pressing issues like climate change, water pollution, and food inequality.