Editorial: Farmers and climate change
The fight of a farmer on the front line of climate change
By Martin Nikolov
Farm workers are rarely portrayed in a good light about climate change, but in reality, farmers have been at the forefront of adapting to climate change through innovation. Spurred on by market signals rather than regulation, farmers are rapidly developing green production methods. Although they have done their part, increased regulation has made it unreasonably more difficult for farmers with quality produce to stay in business.
Earlier this month, members of the American Conservation Coalition and Young Americans for Liberty were invited to visit Wilcox farms to get a glimpse of how farmers are surviving amid growing regulations in the world. USDA constantly puts on farm workers.
In recent years, many farmers have risen to the challenge of tackling climate change by taking action themselves through innovations such as solar-powered chicken coops. to improve self-sufficiency, sell precooked eggs for the convenience of the customer and go organic which can significantly reduce the carbon footprint. Even big producers like Lost Farms in Maryland are using solar power for their barns because it’s good for the environment and the bottom line.
As consumers increasingly demanded organic and ethically sourced foods, many farmers began raising cage-free chickens to help keep chickens healthy and disease-free. It’s seemingly minor changes like these that the Wilcox family have made that keep the farm afloat and its products competitive in the market. Adapting to consumer needs – such as selling pre-cooked eggs to make food preparation easier for the consumer – is essential to economic survival.
Adaptation is nothing new for Wilcox Farm, which has been around since 1919. Each generation has struggled to stay in business, but they have kept the lights on by listening to market demands and adapting accordingly. . For example, the Wilcoxes ultimately made the difficult decision to give up beef entirely and devote their farm to raising healthy chickens in the early 2000s.
That being said, this is an extremely volatile business and farmers of all people care most about being energy efficient as climate change affects them the most. Because farmers depend on natural resources to grow crops, they feel the effects of extreme weather and higher temperatures before almost anyone else. This is why sustainable agriculture is so important and the deployment of natural climate solutions – such as crop rotation, changing livestock diets or planting cover crops – is such an important discussion right now. .
The free market has always been the best indicator of consumer demand, especially farmers. In modern times, consumers are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from. Farmers adapt to these demands and they should not be punished by the government through more regulations. In addition, top-down regulatory approaches tend to disproportionately affect small agricultural businesses. This is not only economically destructive, but also counterproductive in tackling climate change. Farmers should have the autonomy to do what is best for their farmers, without unnecessary government intervention.
Unless they want to make matters worse, politicians who believe in regulating our way out of climate change should steer clear of the agriculture industry. The market is able to regulate itself and the constant increase in regulations is not helping anyone. Policy should be framed around incentives to help farms switch to more sustainable practices, rather than sanctions by DC politicians who have no experience in the industry.
Martin Nikolov is a libertarian activist who visited Wilcox Farm with the American Conservation Coalition.