New York’s Climate Act

NY’s historic commitment to combat climate change requires investment now. The People’s Climate Justice Budget includes funding for climate and environmental justice programs in all sectors including key investments in agriculture. The People’s Climate Justice Budget (PCJB) is a $1 billion spending plan that outlines programs that New York must fund in 2024 (via the state’s newly created Climate Action Fund) as a downpayment on the more than $10 billion a year the state estimates is necessary to address the crisis at scale.

Use the tool below to voice your support for funding the PCJB and for equipping NY’s tens of thousands of small, diversified, and organic operations with the resources and tools needed to build resilience, combat the climate crisis, and continue fueling local economies and feeding NY communities.

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act

In 2019 New York State passed a historic bill, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act), that requires the state to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and no less than 85% by 2050 from 1990 levels. As the process of regulating, planning, and funding programs to meet these goals unfolds, this page will continue to examine how agriculture fits in.

Agriculture in the Climate Act Scoping Plan

The New York State Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan for implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019 was finalized at the end of 2022 after an extensive development process that included public comments. The plan aims to provide a pathway for reaching NY’s ambitious, necessary climate goals and includes. Chapter 15 of the plan focuses on agriculture and forestry and outlines several strategies.

  • Advance Alternative Manure Management
  • Advance Precision Feed, Forage, and Herd Management
  • Advance Agricultural Nutrient Management
  • Adopt Soil Health Practice Systems
  • Increase Adoption of Agroforestry
  • Develop Agricultural Environmental Management Planning for Climate Mitigation
  • and Adaptation
  • Monitor and Benchmark Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Establish a Payment for Ecosystem Services Program
  • Bolster Local Agricultural Economies

Additional chapters and sections of the plan are relevant to agriculture and food systems including strategies for transportation and waste.

NOFA-NY’s Key Points on Agriculture in the Draft Scoping Plan

When the draft plan was released, NOFA-NY’s policy committee worked to develop comments on ways to strengthen the plan. While some of our recommendations were incorporated into the final plan, many key aspects are still missing and the plan falls short of the transformation needed to support farmers in confronting and reversing our climate and biological crises. Read NOFA-NY Comments on the CLCPA Draft Scoping Plan here (PDF). and some key points are summarized below.

Invest in certified organic and agroecological farms that build soil carbon, increase resilience to extreme weather, and reduce erosion, run-off, and nitrous oxide emissions. 

  • Include a mitigation strategy in the Agriculture and Forestry Sector to convert 25% of NY farmland to organic by 2030 through massively scaled-up technical assistance programs, tax subsidies, and grant funding.  
  • Call for the establishment of a comprehensive soil health program that nurtures a culture of soil care among farmers, their neighbors, and their customers with sustained support from public policy.  
  • Include, in AF12, a requirement that agriculture and forestry projects that receive public funding use soil health practices as defined in Agriculture & Markets (AGM) CHAPTER 69, ARTICLE 11-B, § 151-l
  • Set statewide soil health goals to track progress, increase accountability, and ensure the permanence of soil-sequestered carbon.
  • Discourage the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. The prohibition of synthetic fertilizers in organic production reduces a significant agricultural source of nitrous oxide as well as energy use. According to the EPA, nitrous oxide emissions from soils comprise 50.4% of all domestic agricultural emissions.
  • Include out-of-state production of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in the greenhouse gas inventory of NY farms.

Address inequities in our farming and food systems including systemic racism, to build a “stronger, more resilient, and more equitable agricultural community in New York State.” (Quote from Commissioner of Agriculture, Richard Ball’s letter introducing the 2021 Diversity and Racial Equity Working Group Report (PDF).)

  • Include a mitigation strategy in Climate-Focused Bioeconomy to create programs and target funding to enable access to land, capital, and farming resources for underserved groups including BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA+, low-income, veterans, beginning farmers, and undocumented farmworkers.  
  • Ensure that at least 40% of all funds expended by the state under this plan are invested in underserved communities.
  • Ensure that members of all underserved communities are able to participate in the design and implementation of all new initiatives. 

Protect and restore our soil resources, and strengthen urban and rural economies, by providing income to those who regenerate soil while producing food, fiber, building materials, and medicine. 

With community involvement, design and implement a Payment for Ecosystems Services (PES) Program that rewards farmers for the many interrelated and essential ecosystem services that their farms provide.

Replace much of the language in AF9 and AF10 with language calling for an end to public investments in technologies, including expensive cover and flare systems and biodigesters, that enable the accelerating concentration of livestock farms, known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).  

  • Regulate and hold accountable the small number of very large NY dairies whose manure storage systems produce the majority of agricultural GHG emissions, while also polluting wetlands and waterways. 
  • Fund transformative practices that work upstream of manure storage, and prioritize practices that smaller producers can adopt.
  • Ensure that Climate Resilient Farming Program funds are directed towards reducing both enteric and manure sources of agricultural methane emissions, and utilize these funds to build climate resiliency rather than entrenching current manure management practices that rely on liquid systems of manure handling and storage.

In NY, CAFOs are regulated by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. According to the USDA, just 12% of New York dairies account for nearly 70% of New York’s dairy cow population and are responsible for the vast majority of associated methane emissions.

Prioritize preserving farmland and forests through smart growth strategies that provide the maximum climate benefit, over strategies designed to profit the forestry industry like those contained in strategy AF20.

Include a mitigation strategy that reforms state policies and programs to ensure that institutional procurement programs prioritize local economies, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, nutrition, and a valued workforce in alignment with the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) standards.

NY Renews Coalition Resources

NOFA-NY is a member of the NY Renews, a coalition of 300+ groups advocating for good jobs and climate justice in NY. The coalition has developed sector-specific recommendations for the Scoping Plan and offers webinars and tools for supporting your engagement in our climate future.