Earth Day

April 22, 2021

April 22, 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 –

Big Change – we can all remember that President Trump had no interest or concern about “climate change.” When elected he quickly withdrew the U.S. from the World Climate Accord. Thursday this week is “Earth Day” and President Biden will host a virtual climate conference with more than 20 countries. The U.S. is back as a highly active member of the Global Climate Team. What will be decided at the meeting is a big question. Will they agree on targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions? Will China step up and do their part? What about Europe?

A poll in the U.S. indicates that our country is ready. If we are going to do something, our ag
industry doesn’t want to be left out. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is pushing the climate
agenda. The Farm Bureau and other farm groups are ready. Two or three years ago I never
would have imagined this farm buy-in. I guess we can do it. Vilsack says we need an ag carbon
bank. Farmers will have to be incentivized to take necessary steps. Another important way to
curb emissions would be to expand our conservation reserve acres. In 2007 farmers had 36.8
million acres of land set aside in the reserve. The number of acres today has dropped to 20.8
million acres. The rental rates were cut with the 2018 farm bill. Not surprising, farmers decided
that they should just farm the land.

President Biden has said that “farmers should be paid to put their fragile land in conservation reserve” as part of climate mitigation. Just a side note – the Conservative Reserve Program was started when I was Secretary of Agriculture in 1985. Taking fragile erosive land out of production was a good idea even before we had even heard about climate change. I have farmed through so many climate challenges. I thought climate change was God’s threat to farmers. But if science tells us it is manmade then we can help get it under control.

In closing – when you celebrate “Earth Day” – think about the farmers that farm this earth and
feed the world.

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