Homegrown Prosperity captures the essence of investing in building sustainable and strong economies and communities. It is a formula for sustainable prosperity for all by connecting our major agricultural and energy economies, our communities, our small businesses and our future. As a public advocate of “local prosperity” as I travel through North Dakota, the unifying theme of my conversations is the importance of healthy soil. People shared concerns about local food, food security, bee populations, urban gardening, improving agricultural / beef production, dangerous algae blooms, access to food. clean water, healthy food and green spaces; hunting, flood / drought issues and economic resilience. All of these things have one thing in common: the need for healthy soil.
Although we have made progress in preventing soil loss since the 1930s, soils in North Dakota continue to lose high levels of carbon. Soil loss is costing North Dakota farmers millions, affecting flood and drought damage, and degrading surface waters, as evidenced by several lakes around our state closed due to algae blooms. In a state prone to flooding and drought, healthy soils have been proven to stabilize the climate and waterways. The Biden administration has made known its commitment to natural climate solutions and is considering agricultural practices such as investments in soil health as one of the natural climate solutions.
Congress is developing a $ 3.5 trillion funding package to address the climate crisis and critical infrastructure needs. Members of the House and Senate agriculture committees have until September 15 to decide how to allocate $ 135 billion to agriculture and food security. As a landowner focusing on soil health, it’s time to invest substantially in farmers, ranchers, landowners, gardeners and city planners to promote healthy soils and build climate resilience. Funding for soil health is perfectly aligned with the new administration’s commitment to natural climate solutions and food security. To achieve this goal, experts from the National Healthy Soils Policy Network recommend a budget of $ 30 billion for soil conservation and range management; this could open the door to more income for struggling family farms, $ 5 billion for climate resilience research and biological research that our state universities could easily source, and $ 3 billion for the value-added agriculture, on-farm renewables and livestock processing; which would give North Dakota the opportunity to develop a regional slaughter facility in North Dakota.