Picture a Summer 2021 Press Release:  “Grow Better Act” Becomes Law

By Felix Kramer

By Felix Kramer, edited by Anna Michel.

This is an evolving draft in progress. It’s missing some information. Feel free to comment at the Google Doc mirror at Grow Better public drafts.

A broad coalition led by farm and food advocates are celebrating the bipartisan passage of the Grow Better Act, a national program focused on jobs, economic justice, healthy food, and community resilience. 

NAME/ID said, “Before people across the country said, ‘we need this,’ who could have imagined support from 350 in the House and 80 in the Senate? We’ve gone around and over polarization to focus on steps we can take to benefit all Americans. Soon Grow Better can start to improve lives all across the country.”

The Grow Better Act will bring the most benefits to rural and small-town America, including:

  • Millions of new jobs safely growing healthy food;
  • Economic and racial justice in long-overlooked communities;
  • Expanded revenue from abundant food grown using proven regenerative and permaculture agriculture techniques;
  • Safer farming for workers, residents, communities, land, air, and water, by greatly reducing agricultural “inputs” (mostly derived from fossil fuels) and “outputs” (crop “dusting”, spraying, chemical runoff, etc.)
  • A Civilian Farm Corps, as part of a broader Civilian Climate Corps, supporting young adult employment in small and mid-sized family farms.
  • Electrification of personal and farm vehicles, equipment, and tools
  • Electrification and weatherization of homes, farm infrastructure, and commercial buildings 

Initial sponsors included the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the National Farmers Union. (These and other groups, spanning the political spectrum, launched the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance in 2020; see news report.) 

They were joined by food groups, including Food First, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumers Union, and activists organizing consumers to vote with their dollars by buying safe and healthy food. [ADD Chef & food links, starting with The Civil Eats Advisory Board.]

As part of broad efforts to build awareness and support for Grow Better, bridge-building organizations partnered with sponsors to encourage dialogues across differences. Living Room Conversations has pioneered in enabling individuals to bring together friends and neighbors to share their values and aspirations, envision benefits, and perhaps collaborate. 

The Grow Better Act was endorsed by members of the THRIVE Agenda coalition, which aims to “Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy.” Grow Better aims to bring  millions of jobs for a just, healthy, and equitable society. 

The Act will expand the already diverse programs [GET LINK] at the US Department of Agriculture for research, evaluation, standards, incentives, and education around regenerative agriculture and related solutions.

Incoming Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack [FIND NEW QUOTE:[along these lines; this one is  from Can This Unlikely Duo Revive Rural America and Help the Planet?:] “A former small-town mayor, Mr Vilsack knows where rural America’s future lies. His evangelisation of regenerative agriculture — using diverse crop rotations, grass plantings and grazing with dramatically lower fertiliser and herbicide use — is an affront to the seed and chemical conglomerates, and he will need all the Republican help he can get. This type of agriculture sequesters carbon, prevents pollution and increases farm profit.”

Announced Partners and cooperating initiatives

  • Electric tools and equipment: The Electric Drive Transportation Association launches a project to develop electric versions of tools and Regenerative Agriculture Equipment, with technical support and investment by Tesla Motors. One pioneer is the compact, autonomous all-electric Monarch Tractor
  • Walmart, Whole Foods, and Costco, joined by other major supermarket chains, commit to bulk purchase and promote the sale of carbon-neutral and carbon-negative foods in all their stores. Endorsing a “Good for you, your tastebuds, and your wallet!” program, in partnership with federal and state incentive programs, they commit to offer subsidies for [X years] to reach price parity. And they begin discussions with representatives of the nation’s health food stores about their role in ensuring a transition for local stores to focus on specialty and new regeneratively-gown products.
  • Food giants led by General Mills, Danone, McDonalds, Nestle and others commit to source [X%] of their products from regenerative agriculture.
  • Airminers and others join to develop standards for documenting carbon sequestration in soil, with the recognition that the long-term benefits are a subject of much research.

Timelines

  1. Show near-term benefits: new jobs created, new revenues, lower operating costs. 
  2. Perhaps (given the unresolved science in this field): number of U.S. square miles using agriculture techniques that build carbon in soil, with projections of annual CO2 removed in billions of tons by. 2023, 2025, 2030, 2040, 2050. 

For more, see the draft and links below, Imagine! A “Better Life” Deal for Americans

More background info: reports on Biden’s climate/ag policies

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