Secretary Vilsack Lays Out Plan to Help Farmers Make Profit by Focusing on Climate

The Biden Administration has a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture and forestry by 50% by 2030. Washington DC Bureau Chief Emily Buck has more on the plan to meet that goal.

A bipartisan policy center conversation on climate smart agriculture featured U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his vision to bring more revenue opportunities to farms. He says they have several strategies.

“We want to focus on climate smart agriculture, we want to make sure we do a better job of managing our forests and reforestation. We want to decarbonize our rural electric cooperatives and generation capacity in in, in rural America and we want to expand significantly renewable energy and fuel production and by doing that, I think we create enormous opportunity in rural places. And we’ll meet those audacious goals and President Biden is set.”

He says part of the plan is to make climate smart practices a value-added opportunity for commodities.

“That will that will allow them to continue to do what they love to do but also qualify for the ability to essentially earn carbon credits, water credits, wildlife credits, which is additional income sources. And if we as we do this, we agreed that climate smart commodity, that higher value proposition, then they’ll be in a position to essentially receive more for their hard earned work.”

Vilsack says the “pressure is on” to refine the process of collecting and measuring carbon data to allow farmers better access to carbon markets.

“I mean right now the system’s way too complex requires far too much from farmers. And they’re just not going to be doing it for the for the economic return. If we create a climate smart commodity with value added, and we make it easier for them to participate in these markets, and their privately run markets, not government run markets will probably run markets and you’ve got the best of both worlds and I think you’re gonna see farmers very much interested in this.”

USDA also plans to expand local processing and food systems to expand markets and leverage existing conservation programs like CRP.

“We want to take our CRP program and encourage more grassland activity which we have started most recently in 2021. We increase rental rates, we tried to make CRP more attractive and more competitive. And in doing so we saw a fairly significant uptake.”

Prior to the changes, USDA was at a record low number of acres, but was able to add 5.3 million acres last year, primarily in grasslands.


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