The debate over climate policy usually includes some discussion about whether the U.S. crop insurance system should be changed to either incentivize more conservation or better address weather threats. Yet two experts said this public-private partnership is already reflecting changes in climate and new innovations in agriculture, with the potential for more targeted improvements to come.
President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are readying their next big legislative push for a $2 trillion infrastructure package that he wants to pay for with corporate tax increases, which likely will make the measure a non-starter for Republican lawmakers and many farm groups.
U.S. farmers, ranchers, foresters and food companies are leaning in on the climate policy debate more than ever before, even as many questions remain about how to achieve measurable and practical solutions that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pledged to the House Agriculture Committee to “root out” systemic racism and barriers at USDA that prevent Black and other socially disadvantaged farmers from receiving the same level of assistance that has historically been available to white farmers.
USDA announced Wednesday plans to spend at least $6 billion on new pandemic aid programs that reach a broader swath of producers than previous efforts, while putting “a greater emphasis on outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers (and) timber harvesters.”
Agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., when adjusted for productivity, are down by 24% over the past 30 years, but farmers can do better if Congress and the Biden administration amp up assistance, says American Farm Bureau Federation Chief Economist John Newton.
The $5 billion approved in the American Rescue Plan for disadvantaged farmers, including $4 billion in debt relief, is only the beginning of what should be done for farmers of color, three key U.S. senators said Monday.