Even before the farm policy came out, Vox’s David Roberts (formerly of Grist) was calling Inslee’s overarching climate plan “a fully fleshed-out Green New Deal.” The program wouldn’t just cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, Roberts wrote, but also “make structural reforms to the economy to protect and invest in vulnerable communities, boost innovation and job growth, empower workers, and hold polluters accountable.” The new farm proposal fleshed out Inslee’s vision a little further. Today, we use petroleum products (cosmetics, plastics, and gasoline are all derived from oil) to get by every day. Inslee suggested overhauling this system by replacing these petroleum-based materials with plant-based materials that can be grown on farms. Inslee also planned to pay farmers to sequester carbon dioxide, to trap fertilizers that cause toxic algae blooms, and to clean up the water (by maintaining, for example, spongy soil and strips of wilderness along streams). Most farmers want to be good environmental stewards, you see, but their first priority is avoiding bankruptcy. By paying for these environmental services, we could align those often contradictory forces and nudge farmers to do the right thing. At the same time, Inslee wanted to start funding agricultural research like we mean it. Government spending on agriculture-related research has bounced up and down, but overall it has sloped gently downward in recent years. Inslee wants to put a massive spike in that line by tripling funding for federal ag research and development, which would bring the total to something like $15 billion — an unprecedented amount. He also proposed tripling the number of agricultural extension agents, who are basically local experts who work with farmers in every county to figure out how to apply the latest findings from science to their operations. For the remaining 2020 candidates, who have put forth a wide range of farming plans, it’s probably a good idea to take notes. Something tells us it’s what Inslee would have wanted.
<div class="continues show-for-small-only"> <small>Article continues below</small> </div> <aside class="series-aside right"> <div class="series-aside__header"> More in <a class="" href="https://grist.org/series/2020-vision/?utm_source=syndication&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=grist" >this series</a> </div> <div class="series-aside__item"> <a class="series-aside__link" href="https://grist.org/article/julian-castros-trump-defying-plan-to-save-endangered-species/?utm_source=syndication&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=grist" > Julián Castro’s Trump-defying plan to save endangered species </a> </div> <div class="series-aside__item"> <a class="series-aside__link" href="https://grist.org/article/the-u-n-report-calls-for-better-farming-which-2020-candidates-have-a-plan-for-that/?utm_source=syndication&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=grist" > The U.N. report calls for better farming. Which 2020 candidates have a plan for that? </a> </div> <div class="series-aside__item"> <a class="series-aside__link" href="https://grist.org/article/in-detroit-democratic-presidential-candidates-biden-sanders-warren-harris-climate-debate/?utm_source=syndication&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=grist" > In Detroit, Democratic candidates actually did some climate debating </a> </div> </aside>
< p class="grist-story-credit">This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Jay Inslee’s parting gift: A plan to save American farms on Aug 22, 2019.