NASDA Winter Policy: Secretary of Agriculture Emphasizes Agricultures role in Improving Emissions
Recent criticism of animal agriculture’s impact on the environment captured the attention of US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
“I want to be in the position to forcefully push back on that notion by point towards what farmers are doing and will do, and what ranchers are doing and will do, and in fact I will say, for a country that is getting serious about climate, you can’t get it done without Rural America being heavily involved and invested and doing its part.”
He says expanding existing conservation programs and USDA’s new climate smart pilot program can be a critical part of the solution.
“We don’t want to penalize the early adopters we want them to be included. Why do we want them to be included? Because we need data. We need data and information. We need accumulative impact of these programs so that we are in the position to create the standard of what a climate smart commodity is.”
Improving precision agriculture and sustainability could also help reduce market uncertainty and input costs, according to Vilsack.
“Think about a technology that empowers farmers to better utilize those inputs to the point where one acre over here doesn’t need any, over here needs a little bit more, over here needs a little bit less. Think about what that does to the bottom line. So, USDA needs to invest in the research that allows that kind of technology to get into the market.”
Another part of reducing emissions is the balancing act between biofuels and electric vehicles. But Vilsack says there is room for both.
“We’ve got an aviation industry that is begging for drop in aviation biofuel. Want to buy it today. That’s a 35 billion gallon, not blended, drop in. That is a factor of 2 at least our existing industry holy cow what an opportunity.”
Secretary Vilsack also told state leaders now is the time for USDA to lay the groundwork for pilot programs and new research to help guide the 2023 Farm Bill negotiations.
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