The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) is encouraged by USDA’s recent announcement inviting proposals to advance voluntary climate-smart farming and forestry practices. The alliance is pleased to see USDA embracing an incentive-based approach that would increase demand for climate-smart farm, ranch and forestry products, while building trust that the climate benefits are real and verifiable.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative saying USDA hopes to receive proposals from a wide variety of stakeholders interested in voluntarily collaborating to test wide-ranging ideas that sequester carbon and reduce GHG emissions on farms and working lands. Vilsack credited FACA, saying the department drew heavily from alliance recommendations released in May 2021 when forming the program. USDA also acknowledges the need identified by FACA to build confidence in these climate benefits by investing in measurement, monitoring and verification to lay the groundwork for success and potential actions by Congress.
FACA supports this “walk before you run” approach by government to advance climate-smart practices. FACA has long stressed that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and is pleased USDA is inviting proposals that would add value to and encourage new markets for the full range of farm, ranch and forestry products, grown and raised on farms, ranches and forests of all sizes. The alliance also supports equitable opportunities and applauds USDA’s stated goal to reduce barriers to participation for all farmers, ranchers and forest owners.
“Secretary Vilsack’s focus on pilots to get the policy ‘right’ will help inform future discussions and ensure we are doing the best for the environment, our farms and ranches, and rural communities,” said Zippy Duvall, FACA co-chair and president of the American Farm Bureau. “Reducing barriers, addressing challenges, and encouraging opportunities for all farmers and ranchers, no matter the size of their farm or where they are located, will be key to success.”