USDA’s role in climate initiatives

As the process to write the 2023 farm bill begins, the agriculture committees should address climate policy in a producer-focused way, said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and a co-chair of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA). Conner’s remarks came during testimony at a House Agriculture Committee hearing to review the role of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs in addressing climate change.

“As the Committee begins work on the next farm bill, we recommend that the process align with FACA’s guiding principles. We believe that policies should be voluntary, and market- and incentive-based; that they should advance science-based outcomes; and that they should promote resiliency and help rural economies better adapt to climate change,” Conner testified.

Conner noted that FACA released a comprehensive list of recommendations related to agriculture and climate in November 2020. Several of these, he said, should be considered during the farm bill process, including strengthening USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, expanding broadband access in rural America, and bolstering energy programs such as the Rural Energy for America Program. The full FACA policy recommendations can be found online at www.agclimatealliance.org. Conner also noted that FACA is beginning a process to develop an expanded set of more farm bill focused recommendations in the coming months.

“FACA believes that the next farm bill must address climate policy. Responding to consumer demands, private sector commitments to reduce emissions and grow green supply chains will continue in the years ahead,” Conner said. “The potential for added costs to be pushed down to producers makes it imperative that the next farm bill provide the tools to help producers remain profitable. With the right public policy, what could be an unsustainable cost can be turned into something that will boost farm income and rural communities.”

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