Presidential candidates outline plans on Climate Change, Sustainability with Farm Bureau

Wildfires Creating Vivid Sunset

President Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, each took time to respond to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s survey on agriculture issues.

Question from the American Farm Bureau Federation: Using innovative farm equipment, better seeds, green energy and climate-smart practices, U.S. farmers and ranchers are producing more food, renewable fuel and fiber than ever before, while using less water, protecting against erosion and conserving more soil, avoiding nutrient loss, increasing wildlife habitat and improving biodiversity. Less than 10% of total U.S. GHG emissions stem from agriculture. In fact, efficiency gains are so significant that U.S. agriculture would have needed nearly 100 million more acres in 1990 to match 2018 production levels. At the same time, farmers’ commitment to conservation is clear. More than 140 million acres are enrolled in federal conservation programs, which equals the total land area of California and New York combined. As president, how would you ensure that climate regulations do not hamper American productivity and competitiveness?

Biden: Many farmers are some of the best stewards of our land, air, and water. But climate change poses an existential threat to all of us -- including farmers. We need to combat climate change, but in doing so can create new opportunities and new sorts of revenues for farmers. The government needs to partner with farmers to accelerate progress toward net-zero emissions. We will ensure our agricultural sector is the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, and that our farmers earn income as we meet this milestone. Toward this end, a Biden-Harris Administration will dramatically expand and fortify the pioneering Conservation Stewardship Program, created by former Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin, to support farm income through payments based on farmers’ practices to protect the environment, including carbon sequestration. In addition to seeking full federal funding for the program, a Biden-Harris Administration will ensure the program can participate in carbon markets. Corporations, individuals, and foundations interested in promoting greenhouse gas reductions could offset their emissions by contributing to Conservation Stewardship Program payments to farmers for those sequestering carbon — for example, through cover crops. This will not only help combat climate change, but also create additional revenue sources for farmers at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet. And, this approach will create a whole series of new businesses that survey, measure, certify, and quantify conservation results. In addition, a Biden-Harris Administration will make a significant investment in research to refine practices to build soil carbon while maximizing farm and ranch productivity. Soil is the next frontier for storing carbon.

Finally, investments in bio-based manufacturing will create new revenue opportunities for farmers and ranchers as they convert ag waste in chemicals, fabrics, fibers, fuels, and other materials. This will increase farm income and create more good-paying manufacturing jobs, particularly in rural America. A Biden-Harris Administration is committed to creating incentive-based partnerships between farmers and the federal government to further sustainable practices and help the climate. We recognize the important role animal agriculture plays in farm income and rural jobs and will be a strong partner to this sector.

Trump: President Trump believes that American farmers are the most sustainable in the world and we should be thanking them rather than thinking of new ways to regulate them. Any new sustainability or climate requirements must be science based and not result in tighter profit margins for farmers. This would hurt beginning and smaller farmers the most.

The number one stewards protecting natural resources are our nation’s farmers and ranchers. The Trump/Pence Administration has been strong supporters of increased funding of voluntary conservation programs included in the 2018 Farm Bill that helped farmers protect our precious natural resources, including water quality, while also enhancing soil health.

A Biden Administration will be controlled by environmental activists that would be working from day 1 to implement the Green New Deal which would have devastating impacts on farmers and ranchers.

The Trump/Pence Administration launched the Ag Innovation Agenda earlier this year with the goal of telling the story of agriculture’s contribution to the economy and the environment, starting to set the benchmarks for how the sector can be a part of solutions, not demonized as the problem.

You can see each candidates answers to other agriculture questions below:

Food System Resiliency
Farm Policy Programs
International Trade
Tax Policy
Regulatory Reform
Endangered Species Act
Clean Water
Rural Life and Health
Agricultural Labor
Sustainability and Climate Change