On a bipartisan 76-19 roll call, the Senate confirmed Robert Bonnie, who was part of a think-tank proposal for a "carbon bank" at USDA to slow global warming, as agriculture undersecretary for farm production and conservation on Tuesday. Bonnie has served as USDA climate adviser since January.
The USDA will put a "significant" amount of money into large-scale pilot projects of climate-smart agricultural practices to create new markets for sustainably produced products, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. In announcing the initiative, which would go into effect next year, he painted dollar signs on his picture of climate mitigation.
Farmers and landowners would share a combined $5 billion in payments for planting cover crops to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff under a proposal written by farm state Democrats in the Senate and House. The package would also boost spending on a handful of existing stewardship programs for total outlays of $28 billion.
The USDA's climate mitigation initiatives will be built on a simple rule: "If they don't work for producers and landowners, they're not going to work for the climate," said Robert Bonnie, the Biden nominee to run the USDA's crop subsidy and land stewardship programs, on Thursday. "Making sure we get that right is going to be a high priority."
Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow was certain on Thursday that the House would follow the Senate in passing the first-ever climate mitigation bill for agriculture. Under the bill, the USDA would help farmers enter the carbon market, touted as the private enterprise way to earn money while combating climate change.
Agricultural law expert Janie Hipp promised on Thursday to be "a big voice at the interdepartmental table" in dealing with cattle prices and biofuels if she is confirmed by the Senate to lead the USDA's legal shop. "I commit to you that I will get on this [cattle price transparency] as one of my very, very top priorities."
Congress should provide $200 billion in new funding over a decade to reach the goal of "negative emission farming," said 450 conservation, consumer, farm and environmental groups in a letter on Tuesday. The increase would be the equivalent of all the funding in the 2018 farm bill for crop subsidies, land stewardship, crop insurance, research and rural development.
The chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee called on Thursday for a $50 billion increase in funding for the USDA's stewardship programs to combat climate change on farms and ranches. And a USDA report said forests could absorb an even larger share of U.S. carbon emissions than the current 14 percent through a combination of tree planting and prudent management.
A few weeks ago, USDA climate adviser Robert Bonnie used a variant of “walk before you run” to describe the Biden administration goal of bipartisan support for climate mitigation in agriculture. On Monday, a sector-spanning coalition said the USDA “needs to crawl before it can …
President Biden lacks authority to tap a $30 billion USDA fund to pay for climate mitigation, said two senior Republican senators on Tuesday, potentially limiting the administration's role in combating global warming on the farm. Suggestions for a "carbon bank" at USDA to help farmers and foresters adopt climate-smart practices hinge on access to the fund held by an agency known as "USDA's bank."
The USDA has the authority to create a so-called carbon bank to encourage climate mitigation on the farm, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday, but he is waiting for farmers’ ideas on how the bank should operate. Speaking at a farm conference, Vilsack said he was open to an increase …
U.S. agriculture faces a triple imperative — market, environment, and income — in responding to climate change, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday, his first day on the job. "We don't have a day to waste on this," he told reporters while indicating that the USDA will move at deliberate speed to identify and support successful mitigation practices.
Farmers face significant expenses in adopting climate mitigation practices, and the Biden administration is pondering how to "de-risk those investments," possibly through a so-called carbon bank, said USDA climate adviser Robert Bonnie on Thursday. "Can we look at some new authorities to create some new financing mechanisms?"