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A humble — local — answer to climate solutions

Ron Gibson, a seventh-generation Ogden dairy farmer, talks about the sale of land he leases and uses to grow corn for his cattle in Hooper, Weber County, on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. Even before COVID-19 issues decimated dairy farmers, Gibson’s wife talked him into starting a corn maze, and earlier this year he decided to use hundreds of acres of his land in Ogden to grow onions, tomatoes and potatoes in an effort to adapt and survive so his son can follow him into farming.
Ron Gibson, a seventh-generation Ogden dairy farmer, talks about the sale of land he leases and uses to grow corn for his cattle in Hooper, Weber County, on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. Even before COVID-19 issues decimated dairy farmers, Gibson’s wife talked him into starting a corn maze, and earlier this year he decided to use hundreds of acres of his land in Ogden to grow onions, tomatoes and potatoes in an effort to adapt and survive so his son can follow him into farming.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Former President and famed World War II Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field”. President Eisenhower was alluding to what many Utahns already know — government bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., don’t always recognize the hard work that it takes for farmers to put food on our tables while still managing to run a profitable business, contribute to their communities and love their families. That’s why I was so encouraged to see the Growing Climate Solutions Act be introduced — on a bipartisan basis — in both the U.S. House and Senate.

Responsible stewardship of our environment is something that those in Utah’s agriculture industry do every day. The Growing Climate Solutions Act has passed unanimously out of the Senate Agriculture Committee because it is a shining example of bipartisan, commonsense policy. Simply put, the Growing Climate Solutions Act would incentivize voluntary sustainable agriculture practices. This bill is not a liberal wish list like the Green New Deal but rather, a pro-growth, climate-smart policy that recognizes the hard work and environmental stewardship of many of our state’s farmers.

As a state representative for the 16th District, I have been committed to finding conservative solutions to cleaning up our air and energy portfolio. Every Utahn should be concerned about air quality. After all, dirty air affects our health and our economy. This is not a blue issue to be dominated by the political left, nor is it a red issue — clean air is a red, white and blue issue that is championed from our religious leaders to our top military officials.

No one understands the importance of environmental stewardship like our farmers. That’s why I have been honored to co-chair both the Bipartisan Clean Air Caucus as well as the Utah Local Food Advisory Council. The Local Food Council seeks to assist small and large producers meet today’s production and distribution challenges of locally grown and produced fruits, vegetables, beef and poultry. As clean air is such an important issue for my district, I was grateful to see Sen. Mitt Romney’s name appear as a co-sponsor of the Growing Climate Solutions Act.

Time and again, my constituents have told me just how much clean air and the pursuit of new, cleaner energy opportunities means to them. I have always tried to be straight about my legislative philosophy. While laws and regulations have their place, it’s more important to remove barriers and let free enterprise reign, while still providing reasonable environmental controls. Free enterprise will move us more rapidly to a new, cleaner energy economy than any government mandate. That’s exactly what the Growing Climate Solutions Act will do — incent free market innovation that is being led by our farmers.

There is no silver bullet that will magically solve our environmental challenges. While the solution to these problems may seem too big for any one individual to impact, I submit to you that that is not the case. The collective impact of everyone taking responsibility to clean-up vehicle emissions, reduce energy waste, and generally practice good stewardship would be an enormous benefit not only to our state, but to the entire world. We don’t have to look any further than Utah’s farmers to see these principles in practice.

Small family farms account for roughly 90% of all farms in the United States. The Growing Climate Solutions Act will make it easier for our Utah farmers to utilize climate friendly agricultural practices that make both good business sense and well as good sense for environmental stewardship. I applaud Sen. Romney for his leadership of this issue. It’s time for Congress to pass this bill and help those that help us — our farmers.

Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, is a representative for District 16 in the Utah House of Representatives.