President Joe Biden kicks off his global climate leaders summit today as the world watches to see how serious the United States is about meeting its new commitment to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Keep in mind: These emission-reduction pledges, known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, are non-binding under the Paris agreement. Other leaders likely will be skeptical about how concrete the U.S. pledge is without action by Congress to cut emissions through a carbon tax, renewable energy standard or other means.

“What matters is the policies to meet the NDC,” said Sam Thernstrom, CEO of Energy Innovation Reform Project, a non-profit group that promotes the development of advanced energy technologies. 

“America has never been shy. In fact, there are all kinds of commitments on the international stage to bold climate action. It’s following through on those commitments that is challenging.”

By the way: Canada will reportedly pledge to cut its emissions by at least 40% by 2030.

Take note: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be part of a breakout session this afternoon called “Adaptation and Resilience.” and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will speak at a session on “Nature-based Solutions.”

Check for developments on the summit.








Vilsack looks to boost CRP enrollment

Ahead of the summit, Vilsack announced USDA would be raising some payment and incentive rates for the Conservation Reserve Program. The goal is to add at least 4 million acres to CRP; fewer than 20.8 million acres are currently enrolled.

Vilsack announced the CRP sweeteners and other moves at a meeting of the White House’s climate task force on Wednesday to “demonstrate USDA’s commitment to putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change," the White House said.

Read our report on USDA’s CRP plans here.

EU farmers backing Green Deal law

European Union legislators reached a preliminary deal Wednesday to pave the way for passage of the European Climate Law – an intrinsic portion of the European Green Deal. The largest umbrella group for European farmers and cooperatives, COPA-COGECA, is throwing its support behind the legislation.

The law “will define the path of European farming in the coming decades,” the EU farm coalition said. “European farmers and agri-cooperatives support the agreement’s objective on net greenhouse gas reduction.”

The European Commission says the law lays out the path “to reaching climate neutrality by 2050 and the intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.”

Farm Bureau welcomes Regan comments on WOTUS

The largest U.S. farm organization is pleased with EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s statement that the administration won’t return to the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. rule.

“I think he’s recognizing reality in understanding that rule was a disaster, and we welcome that,” Don Parrish, senior director of regulatory relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation told Agri-Pulse. The WOTUS rule defines what streams, wetlands and other features fall under the regulation of the Clean Water Act.

Regan, who made his comments during a hearing with the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, also said he disagrees with former President Donald Trump’s WOTUS re-definition, which is opposed by environmental groups.

When the Trump rule was released in 2020, Jim Murphy, director of legal advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation, called Trump’s rule “ill-advised” and said it threatened public drinking water, wildlife habitats, and opportunities for safe recreation.

Read our report on Regan’s testimony here.

Tailpipe emissions EPA proposal coming in July

By mid-July, EPA will issue a notice of proposed rule-making to tighten standards for tailpipe emissions from cars and light-duty trucks, Regan told the lawmakers. He says the agency will be considering information gathered from implementation of state carbon standards.

“States like California have, historically, the right to lead the way,” he said. “The federal government can indeed learn from states.”

Keep in mind: Tailpipe emissions standards are important to the ethanol industry as well as farmers because increased fuel efficiency means less fuel is consumed, which potentially means less ethanol consumption.

Historically, the CAFE/tailpipe standards have also allowed CAFE compliance credits to be generated for the sale of lower-carbon vehicles, including flex-fuel cars and trucks that can run on E85.

Pandemic fuels mango demand in the U.S.

Zingy ginger mango smoothie, strawberry mango cinnamon toast, Thai mango crunch salad with spicy peanut dressing. These are just some of the exotic foods being promoted by the National Mango Board as consumption of the fruit climbs in the U.S.

Americans started eating more mangos during the pandemic and producers in Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala are counting on the trend to continue, says Manuel Michel, executive director of the National Mango Board. The average American ate 3.63 pounds of mango fruit in 2020, and Michel says he believes that can reach 7 pounds over the next decade.

“Mango has become a fashionable fruit and it is highly valued by North American consumers,” he said. “In fact, due to the pandemic, consumers have become more demanding and are opting for a much healthier lifestyle, in which mango is a priority food … There is no limit to its growth.”

Pandemic gives boost to US pulse exports to Peru

Peruvian consumers eat a lot of beans, and the pandemic sharply heightened that demand, forcing the country to buy a lot more than normal from its foreign suppliers, according to USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service

The U.S. remained Peru’s second-largest foreign supplier for pulses, mostly dry beans, but trade rose sharply in 2020, pushing prices higher. Peru imported 151,784 metric tons of pulses in 2020, a 53% increase from 2019 that was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said it. “I certainly believe that the wetlands are nature’s kidneys, and we need to develop and work on them as best we can,” - Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, during the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee hearing Wednesday with EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

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