Rep. Chellie Pingree and her Agriculture Committee chairman are holding a listening session Monday at 2 p.m. at Freeport High School to inform Congress’ work this summer to enact the next five-year Farm Bill. One of the key questions is, “How can we use this legislation to adapt to and to combat climate change?” (Her office has provided a link to ask to speak ahead of time. Here it is.)

Farming of all sorts contributes to and suffers from climate change, but there is a lot that we can do to reverse that. Companies like, and are offering to remove or convert methane now being emitted from farms and other rural sources covered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and other programs. The National Academy of Science has begun a study that should report next year on ways to remove methane from the ambient atmosphere.

Thanks to farsighted members of the Agriculture committees like Pingree and Ro Khanna, three sections of the Inflation Reduction Act provided billions of dollars over 10 years to the USDA to help farmers sequester CO2, destroy or convert methane and remove other greenhouse gases.

The key question for the Farm Bill: Wouldn’t it make sense to require companies or farms benefiting from Inflation Reduction Act subsidies or price supports use that assistance to remove and reduce greenhouse gases? Or to pay a fee based on the greenhouse gases they do not eliminate or remove so others can remove even more – both at the sources and from the atmosphere – as those methods are perfected?

We could pay farmers to sequester more carbon dioxide, just as we pay oil companies to do it via tax credits. Farmers could be paid to sequester CO2 in woodlots or remineralize and enhance their fields with rock dust or biochar. The nonprofit Remineralize the Earth, based in western Massachusetts, is running programs all over the world demonstrating those win-win solutions.

For decades, farmers have used large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer made from natural gas. Producing and transporting natural gas releases massive amounts of methane, which makes up most natural gas, and methane is the second largest contributor to global warming. The Farm Bill could require them, in exchange for its support, to transition to soil enrichment and other practices not so dependent on fossil fuels.


Farm products can be refrigerated without warming the Earth. The Farm Bill could require and help with a faster transition from fields to supermarkets to climate-safer refrigerants, such as compressed ammonia and ironically, carbon dioxide, which are thousands of times less warming than the refrigerants being phased out slowly by the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol and by federal legislation enacted to ensure we comply.

Rotting food waste, whether in landfills or not, gives off lots of methane. The Farm Bill could require food marketers to partner with charities or public institutions to use foods that were previously thrown out when past their freshness dates but still edible.

The Farm Bill could require that the administration impose, with a year’s notice, tariffs that could be used to fund low-interest loans for deep net negative greenhouse-gas removal, not just net-neutral offsets. This could help set the rules for Article 6.4 of the Paris Agreement for bilateral greenhouse-gas removal projects. Those rules will be decided at the Conference of the Parties this fall.

With such help, developing countries can keep up or show the way in their fields and forests. Tariffs can level the field for all. If exporting countries make little or no effort to reduce and remove greenhouse gases, then their products could be embargoed altogether.

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