Senator Hinchey and Assemblymember Lupardo Sponsor Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act, Nation-Leading Legislation Making NY Farmers Key Part of Fight Against Climate Change

Pictured: Peter M. Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates NY; Elizabeth Wolters, New York Farm Bureau Deputy Public Policy Director; Andy Bicking, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy for Scenic Hudson; Samantha Levy, New York Policy Manager for American Farmland Trust; Senator Michelle Hinchey, Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Assemblymember Didi Barrett, Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon, Crystal Stewart-Courtens, Board President of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY (NOFA-NY) and Owner/Operator of Philia Farm in Johnstown, NY.
Broad Coalition of Environmental and Agricultural Organizations Stand with Hinchey and Lupardo in Support of Legislation that Creates Soil Health and Climate Resilient Farming Initiatives

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 2, 2021) – Today, State Senator Michelle Hinchey (SD-46) and Assemblymember Donna Lupardo (AD-123) gathered a broad coalition of environmental and agricultural organizations to discuss the NYS Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act (S.4722A-Hinchey/A.5386A-Lupardo), nation-leading legislation to provide farmers with the tools and resources they need to be active partners in New York’s efforts to mitigate the climate crisis. The bill, which passed the State Assembly unanimously last week (147-0), is expected to come before the Senate for a vote this week. Agriculture chairs Hinchey and Lupardo have built a wide range of support for the bill to help secure its passage in both houses before the end of session, which is just one-week away.

The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act establishes a Soil Health Initiative, a Climate Resilient Farming Initiative, and a Research Initiative through the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets—all steps forward to scale sustainable soil health practices that will increase carbon sequestration to help the state meet its climate goals while improving water quality and promoting resilience to extreme weather events both on-farm and in surrounding communities.

The bill charges Ag & Markets with creating voluntary science-based standards for soil health that will drive on-farm planning and goal setting, and enable farmers to take advantage of existing and new private, state, and federal funding to implement farm management practices that promote soil health. The bill also seeks to codify, for the first time in State Law, definitions of soil health and soil health practices that will lay the groundwork for future policy.

“New York agriculture is a core part of the solution to fighting climate change in our state, and the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act is the legislation that will truly solidify this essential partnership,” said Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This legislation will codify, for the first time in State law, soil health and climate-resilient farming practices to safeguard our food supply, water, and air quality for generations to come. Improving the health of agricultural soils is one of the most important climate solutions of our time, and I am proud to sponsor this transformative legislation to bring New York’s soil health laws to 21st century standards.”

Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee said, “The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act recognizes the vital role agriculture can play in helping the state achieve its climate goals. It starts off with the simple premise that the health and resiliency of NY’s agricultural soil is an important priority. Healthy soil produces healthier foods, mitigates climate change through carbon sequestration, and protects our natural resources. Sometimes referred to as regenerative agriculture, this bill is a first step toward encouraging a “culture of soil health” in NYS.  I am proud of the fact that the Assembly unanimously passed the bill last week and am looking forward to its passage in the Senate.”

“New York State’s current soil health laws date to 1938 and they came about as the result of the Dust Bowl,” said Assemblymember Didi Barrett. “This long overdue legislation makes the important connection between soil health, clean water and clean air, and spotlights the critical mitigating effects of carbon sequestration on climate change. I thank the Agriculture Committee Chairs, Senator Hinchey and Assemblymember Lupardo, for introducing this important legislation, and I urge the State Senate to pass this bill.”

Elizabeth Wolters, New York Farm Bureau Deputy Public Policy Director, said "New York agriculture is a leader in innovation and environmental management. The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act would build on that legacy and work with farmers to implement best management practices to further reduce carbon emissions. New York Farm Bureau thanks Sen. Michelle Hinchey and Assembly Member Donna Lupardo for their critical support and encourages the full legislature to pass this bill.”

“Improving soil health on working farms is one of the single best practices for enhancing farm viability, conserving soil and water, and addressing a changing climate,” said Andy Bicking, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy for Scenic Hudson. “Senator Hinchey, Assemblymember Lupardo, and Assemblymember Barrett are helping lead New York State toward a brighter and economically-sustainable future with the solutions-oriented, evidence-based Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act.”

“By passing this soil health bill, New York will take a critical step towards supporting farmers’ efforts to improve their soil in ways that are robust, practical, and equitable,” said Samantha Levy, New York Policy Manager for American Farmland Trust. “Improving soil health supports farm viability and resilience to extreme weather events, while also improving air and water quality in our communities, and enabling more farmers to join the fight against climate change. AFT applauds Senator Hinchey, Assemblywoman Lupardo, and Assemblywoman Barrett for their leadership on the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act, encourages the legislature to pass this bill this year, and stands at the ready to implement it alongside farmers and partner organizations across the state.”

Peter M. Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates NY said, “Ensuring soil health is the foundation of climate-friendly farming. Adopting optimal irrigation strategies and supporting and maintaining diverse ecosystems will increase productivity, protect our natural resources, and improve climate resilience. We applaud sponsors Senator Michelle Hinchey and Assemblymember Donna Lupardo for their leadership and foresight and look forward to working with them to ensure these practices become law.”

“We applaud the work of NY Assembly Ag Committee leader Donna Lupardo, and NY Senate Ag Committee leader Michelle Hinchey for their far-sighted work in acknowledging the importance of soil health for farmers as well as the entire state,” said Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) Executive Director Bethany Wallis, “Research makes it abundantly clear that healthier soils store carbon, absorb many times their weight in water and will save the state money on water quality and stormwater control while providing greater food security based on more prosperous, resilient farms as anchors of rural development and also of urban well-being.”

Supporters of the NYS Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act Include:

National Organizations
American Farmland Trust
EarthJustice
Carbon Cycle Institute
Land Trust Alliance
Natural Resources Defense Council

Regional, State, and Local Organizations
Agricultural Stewardship Association
Boldly, NY
Catskill Mountainkeeper
Citizens’ Climate Lobby - New York State
Delaware Highlands Conservancy
Environmental Advocates NY
Essex Farm Institute
Hunt Country Vineyards
Long Island Wine Country
Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy
New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association
New York Farm Bureau 
New York League of Conservation Voters
New York State Vegetable Growers Association
Northeast Dairy Producers Association, Inc.
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York
Otsego Land Trust
Saratoga PLAN - Preserving Land and Nature
Scenic Hudson
The Nature Conservancy New York
Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust

###