USDA seeking farmer input on climate policy

USDA seeking farmer input on climate policy
Mar 22, 2021

Interested producers have until April 29 to submit feedback

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing farmers with an opportunity to have a say on climate policy.

U.S. farmers have until April 29 to submit feedback for the USDA on multiple topics.

The topics include:

  • How the USDA can leverage existing policies to encourage farmers to voluntarily adopt practices designed to protect the environment
  • How the USDA can use programs and funding to encourage more biofuel and bioproduct use
  • How the USDA can support adoption and production of other renewable energy technologies like natural gas from livestock

“We want your ideas on how to position the agriculture and forestry sectors to be leaders on climate smart practices to mitigate climate change,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a March 15 statement. “This includes making the most of USDA programs, developing new USDA-led climate strategies, strengthening existing markets and developing new markets that generate income.”

As of March 22, Americans have submitted 26 comments.

Among them is David Isermann, a cash crop and livestock producer from central Illinois.

Connecting crop insurance premiums with climate-smart practices could be a way to incentivize farmers to participate, he said.

“My opinion is that the crop insurance program is an avenue to reward current (practices) and incentivize adoption of new practices,” he wrote on March 18. “Subsidies to crop insurance premiums could be tired to practices that the (Natural Resources Conservation Service) promotes thru (the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program) and other programs.”

Another commenter, Rex Gardner, proposed combining President Biden’s Civilian Climate Corps. with USDA programs that pay landowners a rental rate to retire ag land to permanent tree plantings.

“This would sequester carbon over the lifetime of the rental agreement,” he wrote on March 18. “The CCC then could provide the tree planning, site preparation and any necessary intermediate silviculture operations to optimize carbon capture.”

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