Every month Faith in Place, a nonprofit working with communities of faith to advance environmental justice, hosts a call to discuss key issues and advocate for legislation through a faith-based lens. As the Farm Bill deadline for Congress nears, Faith in Place discussed what an equitable Farm Bill could look like during August’s monthly call.

The Farm Bill is a package of legislation that defines most federal farm, food, nutrition and rural economic programs. It is the “Rules of the Road” for the country’s food and farm systems, said Christina Krost, senior policy director at Faith in Place.

It influences every aspect of federal farming from what is grown and who is growing it to how it is grown, produced and distributed. The Farm Bill also influences where food is distributed and the accessibility communities have to that food.

A new Farm Bill is passed every five years, and the current bill is set to expire September 30, 2023. It is written by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry with input from members of Congress, hearing witnesses, farmers, advocacy organizations and constituents.

MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR: Fighting food insecurity one egg at a time

“Farmers are ideally positioned to help fight climate change,” Krost said. “There’s been a lot written about what farmers can actually do in the fight against climate change. In short, growing crops, raising livestock, clearing land, all of that produces greenhouse gas emissions, and that is the pollution that is warming our planet.”

Communities of faith have long been a critical voice in environmental justice. Polling shows that there is a broad consensus among religious Americans that the world is facing a climate crisis according to the Public Religion Research Institute. Faith in Place’s goal is to bring people of diverse faiths and spiritualities leading the environmental movement to create healthy, just and sustainable communities for everybody.

Climate Smart Investments

Climate activists and advocacy groups across the board agree the Farm Bill 2023 poses a tremendous opportunity for climate-smart investments and an equitable transition to clean energy.

Many advocates have called on Congress to build on historic Inflation Reduction Act investments through the Farm Bill. For Faith in Place, an equitable Farm Bill would include building on several aspects including EV Infrastructure, investments in rural communities, encouraging sustainable practices, brownfield redevelopment – development of unused/underutilized land affected by industrial pollution – and much more.

“If we transition to some climate smart ways, it would be pivotal in our move toward a more equitable and sustainable economy,” Krost said. “So, this is a fairly large issue that we’re trying to tackle here.”

Faith in Place said it hopes to see more opportunities for entrepreneurship and opportunities in food and agriculture and support for land succession that helps farmers retire and provides access for new, beginning and historically marginalized farmers to get started. They also hope to see extended broadband access for rural communities, more walkable and bikeable spaces in metropolitan areas, and encourage brownfield redevelopment while increasing green infrastructure.

Most importantly, Faith in Place emphasized seeing an equitable and just transition to clean energy through investments in geothermal, solar, wind and other energy efficient avenues. Increasing programs for affordable housing with energy efficient heating and cooling is just another way Faith in Place imagines a just transition.

Join Faith in Place for its September monthly call Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. EST.

Contact staff writer Jayden Kennett at 317-762-7847 or by email jaydenk@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @JournoJay