Proposed Democratic Platform makes strides on climate and agriculture, but still falls short

Advocacy experts say stronger energy and agriculture strategies are needed to meet ambitious climate goals

WASHINGTON – Democratic National Committee Platform delegates voted overwhelmingly last night to enhance the original DNC Platform draft by supporting amendments that will strengthen action on climate change and curb the use of harmful pesticides in agriculture.

Delegates voted to support strengthening amendments, including:

  • a commitment for the U.S. to do “its fair share to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius
  • targeting 40 percent of climate investments to disadvantaged and frontline communities
  • an end to tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels
  • a recommendation to “reverse Trump’s ban on chlorpyrifos and help farmers reduce the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers”
  • new investments in “research and development to support climate-resilient, sustainable, low-carbon, and organic agricultural methods”
  • an end to leases for drilling on public lands
  • a requirement that public companies disclose their climate risks and greenhouse gas emissions

Unfortunately, the Platform left out several important  strategies that are key to ensuring that the U.S. meets its climate goals.

“We particularly appreciate the efforts of the DNC Council on the Climate Crisis and are pleased to see many improvements in this final draft,” said Michelle Chan, vice president  of programs at Friends of the Earth Action. “Unfortunately, the Platform still doesn’t go far enough in detailing policies to keep fossil fuels in the ground, such as a ban on fracking. At the same time, it embraces false energy solutions such as biofuels, carbon capture and sequestration and nuclear power.”

“We welcome the Democrats’ ambitious goal to reach net zero emissions in agriculture and are encouraged by the attention to farmworker issues, regional agriculture, low carbon foods and organic farming research,” added Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of food and agriculture programs at Friends of the Earth Action and an advisor on the DNC Council on the Climate Crisis. “However, we are disappointed that the Platform did not include any direct measures to tackle animal agriculture emissions which are critical to solving our climate crisis.”

Friends of the Earth Action joined a group of eight C4 food and agriculture groups, in submitting recommendations to the Platform Drafting committee and directly to former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who serves as CEO of  the U.S. Dairy Export Council. The recommendations included a moratorium on factory farms, regulatory action to curb industrial animal agriculture emissions, and a measure to link agriculture subsidies to healthy soil measures that sequester carbon.

The Draft Platform relies primarily on voluntary measures to get to net zero in agriculture, including increased funding for conservation programs and a push for more income streams for farmers from voluntary carbon markets. It also has a strong recommendation on expanding support for biofuel production by strengthening the renewable fuel standard, a strategy that has been widely criticized by environmental organizations for its perpetuation of pesticide intensive monoculture production that degrades soil, harms pollinators and keeps valuable farmland out of food production.

Contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722,