Farmers Collaborating with Environmentalists
Despite tensions in the past, it is possible for farmers and environmentalists to work together collaboratively. Farmer Trey Hill says he’s been surprised at what can be accomplished when the two groups decide to work together.
Hill… “I work with a lot of the environmentalists myself, personally, and I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’ve found that the folks that I thought were always against me, were really with me. Working together and collaboration, you know, you hear those buzzwords all the time, but I mean, it works.
Hill has found that funding for transitions to climate-smart practices often boils down to how the idea is presented.
Hill… “If you’re doing a social good, it’s often presented wrong to farmers because it’s framed as a subsidy and I’m going ‘No.’ The guy who blacktops the road out front is doing a public good, and he’s getting paid for it to make a living. If a farmer is planting cover crops, he’s doing a public good to help make the water cleaner, therefore getting paid for it is not charity; it is not welfare; it is me getting paid to do a job. And that way of thinking and talking about it kind of gets the environmental community on it because you don’t want the other side saying ‘Hey, we’re giving you money.’ You want to be able to say ‘Hey, I’m earning this money because I’m providing a service.’
Hill says the ecosystem services that farmers provide like sequestering carbon are a public good that benefits everyone. He believes farmers should be compensated accordingly. Hill has experienced optimistic feedback from both farmers and environmentalists using this perspective.