How rejoining the Paris Climate Accord will impact U.S. trade, agriculture

Now that President Biden has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, House lawmakers want the accord to be added to the USMCA trade deal. Here is how it will impact trade and agriculture.

Originally put in place during the Obama administration, the Paris Climate Agreement does not lay out specific requirements for American agriculture, but it does set the overall goal of reducing U.S. emissions 26 percent by 2050.

Maine Democrat and House Ag Committee member, Chellie Pingree says that participation in the Paris Accords helps hold trading partners accountable to the same standards as U.S. producers.

According to Rep. Pingree, “One of the concerns people have had about trade agreements in the past is that they don’t respect the environmental challenges that the United States is facing and allow other countries to have much lower environmental standards. So that puts them at a competitive advantage; I think that’s an issue.”

Opponents of the measure, including Iowa Republican Joni Ernst, say that the agreement puts an unfair burden and cost for the U.S.

“Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, it penalizes the United States of America, our hardworking farmers, our businesses, our industries while allowing polluters like China completely off the hook. China, India, Russia some of these huge polluters, they need to take care of their own problems,” Sen. Ernst states. “Let’s not slap the American farmer in the face and foot the bill for every other nation out there.”

However, Pingree says that it ensures American products have a level playing field and farmers are rewarded for conservation.

“As these international markets change and some of the questions come up about ‘Is this grown in a climate friendly way?’ Well, I’d rather have people saying, ‘I’m going to buy my soybeans in the United States, because we know what their practices are,’ rather than, ‘We are going to tear down Brazilian rainforests and do damage to our climate just because they can sell it cheaper. We’re going to buy from them,’'' Pingree adds. “Well, they shouldn’t have that advantage if they are doing the kind of destruction we are trying to prevent.”

Congresswoman Pingree says that agriculture can be part of the climate solution without the need for burdensome regulations: “The fact is with American agriculture and its broad reach, by increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil we can actually sequester a lot of carbon, and agriculture can become a net zero proposition. So, rather than try to regulate them more, it’s a way of saying, ‘Look if we encourage you to use better practices, you will be a real partner in removing the carbon in the atmosphere and we’re going to look at you as a resource.’”

Her goals for the 2023 Farm Bill include increasing the funding for conservation programs and helping farmers have access to transitional funds, if they want to switch production methods.


The outlook for the China trade deal under President Biden

Biden administration to work with farmers and ranchers on using climate-smart practices

President Biden’s climate-friendly farming

Biden administration discusses trade policy priorities with Ag CEO Council