Biden to seek farmer ‘input’ on climate policy, winning praise
President Biden on Wednesday said his strategy to address climate change will include seeking input from farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs to produce “verifiable” carbon reductions and increase income and jobs for rural Americans.
The ag agenda in a wide-ranging executive order on what he called “the climate crisis” won cautious praise from a range of farm and wildlife groups. (Biden will still face a battle with the fossil fuel industry, The Washington Post reported.)
A White House fact sheet said: “In signing this executive order, President Biden has directed his administration to advance conservation, agriculture, and reforestation.
“The order commits to the goal of conserving at least 30% of our lands and oceans by 2030 and launches a process for stakeholder engagement from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, tribes, states, territories, local officials, and others to identify strategies that will result in broad participation.
“The order also calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate.
“The order directs the Secretary of Agriculture to collect input from farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs to encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, who is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the newly elected chair of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, said, “The Biden climate plan is a visionary departure from an administration that dismissed the well-established science of climate change. This plan will direct every arm of the federal government to recognize the greatest environmental challenge facing humanity and work together to mitigate it. … I am committed to helping this administration act with urgency to ensure that no more time is wasted in dealing with this most critical issue.
“I am extremely pleased that the Biden administration’s climate plan will direct the Department of the Interior to help reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels and conserve at least 30% each of our nation’s lands and waters by 2030. The Biden plan will pause new oil and natural gas leasing in offshore waters and public lands, and calls for the Department of Interior to accelerate development of renewable energy in their place.
“As an organic farmer for 40 years, I am particularly encouraged that President Biden’s climate executive order will direct the USDA to gather input from farmers who are on the frontlines of this crisis. Given a seat at the table, farmers can be among our greatest allies in this fight. That’s exactly why I introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act last year.”
National Farmers Union President Rob Larew said, “Climate change is an immense, complex crisis with far-reaching consequences. To be successful in our fight against it, we must approach it immediately and from every angle possible – just as President Biden’s economy-wide climate plan intends to do. National Farmers Union is especially encouraged by the administration’s focus on climate-smart agriculture, whose capacity for mitigation and adaptation has been largely overlooked until recently.
“We are also pleased that President Biden has instructed the USDA to solicit input from farmers and other stakeholders as they develop and carry out climate programs; though lawmakers and administration officials are generally well-intentioned, they may not always recognize policies’ unintended consequences. By offering food producers a seat at the table, they can ensure that programs are feasible and beneficial for all parties involved.
“In the coming months, National Farmers Union will hold the administration to this promise and work with them to flesh out policies that provide farmers with the support they need to implement solutions and build resilience.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said, “The American Farm Bureau Federation appreciates that President Biden has committed to seek input from America’s farmers and ranchers as the administration works on new climate solutions. It’s crucial that as new strategies are implemented, our leaders listen to the people who will be affected the most. While the president has invited us to the table, we’d like to invite him to the table we’ve already set through the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA). Co-chaired by AFBF, FACA has outlined more than 40 recommendations to guide the development of federal climate policy. We stand ready to work with the administration on science-based, voluntary and market-driven programs. American agriculture already leads the world in climate-smart practices, but we are always looking for new ways to improve. We must ensure a healthy environment while creating income and job opportunities for rural America.
“The executive order outlines broad goals without details of how they will be achieved. AFBF will be closely monitoring federal implementation efforts to ensure all proposed policies and programs are responsible, fair-minded and enable farmers, ranchers and rural America to thrive.”
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner said, “I welcome President Biden’s positive words today about the role that farmers and ranchers can play in addressing climate change. For nearly a year, NCFC and a diverse group of farm, food, forestry, and environmental groups have been working together to find common ground on this issue and develop actionable recommendations for policy makers. As efforts to address climate change gain momentum in Washington, NCFC and others in the ag community stand ready to work with members of Congress from both parties and the Biden administration to address the shared goals of meeting the climate crisis head on and creating new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) CEO Colin Woodall said, “NCBA looks forward to working with President Biden and his administration as they recognize the positive role agriculture plays in addressing climate concerns. U.S. cattle producers use advanced technologies, genetics and grazing management to make their herds the most sustainable in the world. We appreciate the outreach and opportunity to provide feedback, demonstrating U.S. cattle producers are the model for global, sustainable beef production. As the administration works to carry out today’s executive orders, NCBA remains committed to ensuring that cattle producers have the resources and freedom they need to continue producing the world’s most sustainable beef.”
Public Lands Council (PLC) Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover said, “Public lands ranchers truly are the original conservationists, and their carefully managed grazing programs are designed to facilitate healthy cattle and sheep, while also supporting sustained landscape health. As the Biden administration develops a plan to achieve their goal of conserving 30% of our lands and oceans by 2030, we look forward to working with them to ensure these conservation efforts recognize the immense existing contributions of federal lands ranchers. PLC will continue to advocate for conservation policy that takes a comprehensive view of Western natural resource issues. We appreciate the administration’s outreach and look forward to showing them that conservation can only be achieved by working with ranchers who already protect America’s natural resources.”
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney praised provisions that would conserve a minimum of 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 in a process that prioritizes engagement by citizens, including hunters and anglers, but he emphasized the importance of strong stakeholder engagement as the administration proceeds.
“Backcountry Hunters & Anglers was founded to sustain our public land and water resources, and we commend the Biden administration for taking a bold step forward toward their long-term conservation,” said Tawney. “We share a commitment to securing important landscapes, maintaining biodiversity and advancing durable policy solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
“We look forward to working with the Biden administration to enact conservation policies that support hunting and fishing opportunities, enhance access and ensure that state, tribal and federal management agencies retain their authority to make management decisions that rely on the best available science,” Tawney continued.
“We move forward now with the expectation that hunters, anglers and other stakeholders, including private landowners, be included in the challenging work to come,” he added, “and that we integrate thoughtful policy language that enhances management of our natural resources by favoring specificity over ambiguity.”
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership President and CEO Whit Fosburgh said, “From the wetlands that make coastal communities more resilient to the forests and grasslands that sequester carbon, our nation’s lands and waters are engines ready to be turned on to address the impacts of climate change. We appreciate the president’s commitment to using the best available science to conserve our outdoor places for future generations. As this administration implements these directives, we urge them to engage people who live in the communities most affected by these policies, including hunters and anglers. The outdoor recreation economy is a powerful job creator and can play a key role in putting Americans back to work while mitigating the impacts of our changing climate.”
–The Hagstrom Report
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