Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Vilsack promises 'aggressive' action on encouraging farmers to adopt climate-friendly practices

In his first speech to a major farm group since his confirmation, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack shed more light on his environmental priorities and how he may go about achieving them.

In a speech for the National Farmers Union's virtual annual conference Monday, Vilsack "predicted farms would provide 'early wins' for the Biden administration’s efforts to counter climate change, and hinted he will draw on the department’s borrowing authority to fund initiatives to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions," Mike Dorning reports for Bloomberg Green. He said he believes the Agriculture Department "has 'some flexibility' to draw resources for climate change initiatives from the Commodity Credit Corporation, a New Deal-era entity with borrowing authority that President Donald Trump tapped to fund his $28 billion trade bailout."

Vilsack suggested he would act soon, and said farmers can more quickly and easily begin implementing more climate-friendly practices than other sectors such as power generation, construction, and transportation. "He predicted many farmers and ranchers would move to sequester more carbon in soil and reduce emissions if they are given 'additional resources' through existing USDA conservation programs and carbon markets," Dorning reports.

"I intend to be very aggressive in this space because I honestly believe agriculture is primed to create a series of early wins on the climate agenda," Vilsack said.

Vilsack, who headed USDA throughout President Obama's administration, has said he intends to help further President Biden's goal to make the U.S. the first nation to achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions in farming with initiatives such as paying farmers to conserve lands and plant cover crops.

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