When it comes to climate initiatives, Maine has seen a lot of growth over the years. Back in the mid 1970s I helped build one of the first solar houses in Maine. Back then this was ground-breaking technology, but now it is fairly common in Maine and throughout the country.

As we move forward in today’s world, the climate and global warming are at the forefront for many economies. This is particularly true when it comes to the climate concerns that impact our environment, our natural resources, and one of the cornerstones of the American economy: farming and agriculture.

Farmers all across Maine have been struggling seasonally. Some years have been good; others have been bad. Federally imposed regulations have forced farmers to do things in a different way. The new ways of doing things have been costly, with little to no growth in sales or production.

That is why I am thankful to see that the Growing Climate Solutions Act has officially been reintroduced in Congress — and that it has gained the support of our Sen. Susan Collins.

The aptly titled Growing Climate Solutions Act would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop and run a certification program with the goal of making it easier for farmers and foresters to access and participate in existing carbon credit markets. Essentially, this program would give members of Maine’s agricultural community all the tools and resources they need to begin incorporating sustainable agriculture techniques, such as carbon sequestration, which would help lower emissions while actually improving soil quality.

Farmers would then be able to sell the carbon credits they accumulate through adoption of these climate-friendly farming practices to credible, third-party organizations identified through the program.

This is a common-sense, market-based solution that will give the agricultural community — which continues to struggle in the aftermath of the pandemic as well as a series of trade conflicts and shifting consumer demands — some economic stability while also helping us protect our environment and preserve our natural resources.

The fact of the matter is that farmers here in Maine and throughout the country have a personal stake in the climate discussions and debates happening in Washington, D.C. Theirs is an industry that both impacts and is impacted by our changing climate more so than any other sector in the U.S. economy. In short, they deserve to be part of the climate solution and this legislation allows them to do just that — all without resorting to heavy-handed government regulations or mandates that could have an adverse impact on the farming community.

Farmers and foresters in Maine can be thankful to have a leader like Sen. Collins working to help pass bipartisan policies like the Growing Climate Solutions Act. If passed by Congress, it would provide them new economic opportunities while increasing sustainability and helping reduce emissions across the country.

Collins should continue working with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help advance this much-needed legislation. The sooner it passes, the better for Maine farmers and our environment.

Dick Campbell of Orrington is a former state representative.


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