Agriculture and Climate

January 29, 2021

January 29, 2021

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

This is Randy Russell sitting in for my good friend Jack Block. And now for today’s commentary.

The Biden Administration and the Democratically controlled Congress have made climate one of
its top priorities for 2021. President Biden has named former Secretary of State John Kerry as
International Climate Envoy and former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy as Domestic
Climate Advisor. At USDA, long-time climate expert Robert Bonnie has been named Deputy
Chief of Staff to Secretary Tom Vilsack and Climate Coordinator.

No one has to tell those in agriculture about the impact of climate variability. A recent Iowa State University survey found that 81% of Iowa farmers believe climate change is occurring and over half are concerned about its impact on their own farming operations. According to EPA, a total of 77% of total greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation, electricity, and manufacturing industries. Agriculture is estimated to contribute about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Back in 2009, the Democrat-led House of Representatives attempted to impose a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases. This initiative failed because it represented a top-down, government-mandated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the last 12 years, much has changed in agriculture and our view towards climate. Enormous
strides have been made in developing effective measurement and verification tools for carbon
captured in soil and in our nation’s forests. In addition, the dairy and livestock sectors have made
significant strides in methane reduction through changes in feed, technology and the use of
digesters. And biofuels have been shown to play a positive role in reducing agriculture’s climate

So, for agriculture what does a workable and effective climate policy look like? First, agriculture must have a front-row seat at the table in these discussions with Congress and the Biden Administration. Second, sound science must drive outcomes. Third, the government should encourage and help foster the growth of private markets. Private, not government markets, are critical to addressing climate and generating revenue for farmers. Great companies such as Cargill, Land O’ Lakes, Bayer, Nutrien, Indigo Agr, and Corteva are already working to build and participate in such private markets. Finally, the Government must incent farmers and ranchers through tax credits and/or payments to adopt practices to capture carbon and reduce methane emissions.

With these in place, the efforts to address climate for U.S. agriculture can be a win-win—good for the environment and a revenue generator for our Nation’s farmers and ranchers. This is Randy Russell in Washington sitting in for Jack Block.

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