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Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich toured Chispas Farm on Friday afternoon as part of an effort to empower farmers to reach net-zero emissions by 2040. Chispas Farms is a shining example of the successful use of regenerative farming practices in soil rehabilitation and creating a symbiotic relationship with the local environment. Heinrich was joined by Casey Holland, who runs Chispas Farms.

Heinrich believes that by investing and modernizing U.S. agricultural practices, the U.S. can significantly reduce its carbon footprint. The Senator has called on more than $200 billion to be invested in U.S. agriculture to promote sustainability and turn the industry into a solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions rather than a contributor. Heinrich joined other notable Democrats in Washington, including Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), in leading 30 other Democrats to urge Congress and the Senate through a letter to support a long term investment strategy in U.S. agriculture over the next decade. The Agricultural Resiliency Act (ARA), which Heinrich introduced on Earth Day earlier this year, would fund programs that would encourage farmers to utilize regenerative practices and a switch to renewable energy for rural communities, among other initiatives. The bill would also fund USDA research and regional climate hubs. 

“I’m proud to join Congresswoman Pingree, an organic farmer of more than 40 years, to introduce the Agriculture Resilience Act, which sets a national goal of achieving net-zero emissions in agriculture by 2040 through farmer-led, science-based initiatives,” Heinrich said in a press release. Heinrich praised and used New Mexico farmers as an example of farmers who have had to adapt to New Mexico’s often unforgiving climate.

Chispas Farm, located in Albuquerque’s South Valley, is a farm that has thrived in recent years despite the lingering drought. Holland, who led a tour of the farm for the Senator, credited the farm’s regenerative farming practices and community-oriented approach to running the farm for their success.

“New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers, whose livelihoods depend on the health of our land and water, are on the frontlines of the climate crisis and know all too well the effects that extreme weather events can have on their operations. Through regenerative agriculture and soil management, our producers can simultaneously make their land more resilient and play a large role in the fight against climate change,” Heinrich said in a press release. Part of the tour included Chispas Farm’s water conservation methods and their efforts to make the land work for them. Through the use of goats, chickens, and a host of symbiotic flora, the farm has not only achieved sustainable farming practices but has also significantly increased its efficiency of the farm.

The Agricultural Resiliency Act has received supportive statements from over 40 organizations and prominent environmentalists, including Al Gore and the National Farmers Union. 

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