Jay Kilbourn: Farmers, food and climate depend on us

Mike Antonellis, owner of Antonellis Farm, right, looks out over his flood damaged fields with Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Jim McGovern and state Sen. Jo Comerford in Deerfield in 2023.

Mike Antonellis, owner of Antonellis Farm, right, looks out over his flood damaged fields with Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Jim McGovern and state Sen. Jo Comerford in Deerfield in 2023. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Published: 04-01-2024 5:58 PM

Modified: 04-02-2024 11:32 AM


The Gazette recently reported on a meeting of 50 local farmers and farm agencies at Plainville Farm in Hadley [“Valley farmers spotlight agricultural drainage ditch troubles,” March 25]. The discussion covered both drainage issues and other threats driven by climate change that our farmers face.

Farmer Jack Czajkowski said, “It’s stunning to see what’s happening with the weather.” Others called for speedy delivery of technical assistance and funds. But such support is in jeopardy.

Technical assistance and funding have been available to farmers, ranchers, and forest owners through the federal Farm Bill, the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, the state, and local nonprofits. However, the bipartisan Farm Bill, the largest source of funding, meets only a fraction of farmers’ needs for conservation and resilience. Worse still, Congress extended funding for the Farm Bill until only Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, provisions of the IRA are under attack. We volunteers at the Pioneer Valley chapter of the nonpartisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby are calling for citizen action to support local farmers and address the climate crisis. Please join us in contacting Rep. Jim McGovern at (202) 225-6101), and Sens. Elizabeth Warren at (617) 565-3170 and Ed Markey at (617) 565-8519.

Help us thank them for their farmer support last season. Urge them to increase investment in incentive-based conservation and climate-smart farming and forestry programs within the Farm Bill. Ask them to protect and enhance the IRA’s investment in agricultural conservation programs and technical assistance. Our farmers, food and climate depend on us.

Jay Kilbourn

Northampton

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