This week Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden released a document entitled THE BIDEN PLAN TO BUILD A MODERN, SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE AND AN EQUITABLE CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE which includes many of his various agriculture and rural development-related policies. The document, which may be accessed here, is based on policies developed by the Biden-Saunders Unity task force which include the following:
Chiraag Bains, director of legal strategies for the think tank Demos; Reps. Karen Bass and Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, Bobby Scott of Virginia, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Marcia Fudge of Ohio; Dr. Heather Gautney, a sociology professor and former Senate staffer; Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center; former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; former Secretary of State and Senator John Kerry; and union activist Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.
An examination of these policies will inform producers regarding Biden’s agriculture and rural development priorities which he will pursue if elected President. An excerpt of a portion pertaining to sustainable agriculture and conservation follows, however, the plan includes many other related policies such as agriculture labor:
6. INVEST IN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND CONSERVATION
- Mobilizing the next generation of conservation and resilience workers through a Civilian Climate Corps. Biden will put a new, diverse generation of patriotic Americans to work conserving our public lands, bolstering community resilience, and addressing the changing climate, while putting good-paying union jobs within reach for more Americans, including women and people of color. This initiative will be complemented by a new generation of scientists and land managers committed to ecological integrity and natural climate solutions. These workers will use sound, science-based techniques to thin and sustainably manage our forests, making them more resilient to wildfire and enhancing their carbon intake and habitat integrity; restore wetlands to protect clean water supplies and leverage greater flood protection; repair dilapidated irrigation systems to conserve water; plant millions of trees to help reduce heat stress in urban neighborhoods; protect and restore coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands, seagrasses, oyster reefs, and mangrove and kelp forests, to protect vulnerable coastlines, sequester carbon, and support biodiversity and fisheries; enhance the carbon intake of natural and working lands, wetlands, reefs, and underwater mangrove and kelp forests; remove invasive species; improve wildlife corridors; build hiking and biking trails and access to other recreational amenities; and reinvigorate landscapes and seascapes, unlocking economic and climate resilience in places like the Great Lakes, the Everglades, our nation’s great river systems including the Colorado River, and the Gulf of Mexico.
- Creating more than a quarter-million jobs immediately to clean up local economies from the impacts of resource extraction. Biden will direct a front-loaded investment to immediately address the backlog of remediation, reclamation, and restoration needs left behind by the CEOs whose corporations failed to meet their responsibilities to the communities where they operated. Across the country, there are several million unplugged, orphaned, and abandoned oil and gas wells that pose ongoing climate, health, and safety risks in communities. The oil, methane and brine that leaks from these wells contaminates the air and water, and the problem is only getting worse. In addition to these wells, tens of thousands of former mining sites for extraction of coal, hardrock minerals, and uranium are causing ongoing environmental damage including to local surface and groundwater supplies. By making an immediate up-front investment, Biden will create more than 250,000 good jobs with a choice to join a union to plug these oil and gas wells and to restore and reclaim these abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines. This program will create jobs for skilled technicians and operators in some of the hardest hit communities in the country, while reducing leakage of toxic chemicals, methane, and other wastes and preventing local environmental damage. Biden will also hold companies accountable for the environmental damage of their operations, including by clawing back golden parachutes and executive bonuses for companies that shift the environmental burdens of their actions onto taxpayers.
- Standing up for our farms and ranches. Our family farmers and ranchers were already fighting an uphill battle because of Trump’s irresponsible trade policies and consistent siding with oil lobbyists over American growers, but COVID-19 has placed new pressures on that sector and the rural economies it sustains. Biden will bring back America’s advantage in agriculture, create jobs, and build a bright future for rural communities by investing in the next generation of agriculture and conservation; providing opportunities to new farmers and ranchers, including returning veterans and minorities, to enter the economy; and making it easier to pass farms and ranches onto the next generation, and:
- Helping farmers leverage new technologies, techniques, and equipment to increase productivity and profit – including by providing low-cost finance for the transition to new equipment and methods, funding research and development in precision agriculture and new crops, and establishing a new voluntary carbon farming market that rewards farmers for the carbon they sequester on their land and the greenhouse gas emission reductions, including from methane, that they secure. These efforts to partner with farmers will help them tap into developing new income streams as they tackle the challenge of sequestering carbon, reducing emissions, and continue their track record as global leaders in agricultural innovation. Instead of making things harder for farmers, Biden will stand with them as they fight against the threats of climate change, droughts, flooding and extreme weather, while partnering with them to make American agriculture the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions.
- Pursuing smarter pro-worker and pro-family-farmer trade policies – knowing the difference between strong and effective trade enforcement and the self-defeating strategy Donald Trump has pursued. Biden will help farmers compete instead of crushing them.
- Bolstering the security and resilience of our food supply, including by leveraging precision agriculture through regional demonstration projects to minimize the impacts of drought.
- Making sure small and medium-sized farms and producers have access to fair markets where they can compete and get fair prices for their products – and requiring large corporations play by the rules instead of writing them – by strengthening enforcement of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts and the Packers and Stockyards Act.
- Investing in diverse farmers to make our agriculture sector stronger and more resilient. American agriculture is strong in part because of our incredible range of farm types and sizes — and we’ve got to make sure that anyone who wants to serve our country as a farmer can get assistance from USDA. As President, Biden will ensure the U.S. Department of Agriculture ends historical discrimination against Black farmers in federal farm programs and that all socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have access to programs that support their family farms.
- Expanding protections for farm workers. Farm workers have always been essential to working our farms and feeding our country. As President, Biden will ensure farm workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, regardless of immigration status. He will work with Congress to provide legal status based on prior agricultural work history and ensure labor and safety rules, including overtime, humane living conditions, and protection from pesticide and heat exposure, are enforced with respect to these particularly vulnerable working people.
- Building on Biden’s rural plan, which includes proposals to re-invest in land grant universities’ agricultural research so the public, not private companies, owns patents to agricultural advances.