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.
The new era of climate mitigation on the farm would look like a beefed-up version of longstanding USDA conservation programs, augmented by a carbon bank that sets a floor price for carbon sequestration and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, said leaders of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance on Wednesday.
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?"
The incoming chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said she will pursue "voluntary, producer-led" solutions, such as carbon markets, for agriculture's contribution to fighting climate change, with the USDA providing expert advice to producers. Sen. Debbie Stabenow also said the USDA could need additional funding to pay for climate change programs.
During a re-election rally in rural Wisconsin on Thursday, President Trump announced an additional $13 billion in coronavirus relief for U.S. farmers and ranchers, more than doubling assistance to the sector. The money will be available beginning next week, said the president.
Although the USDA has distributed only 9 percent of the $16 billion in coronavirus aid earmarked for agriculture, three farm and ranch groups asked lawmakers for more on Wednesday. The American Farm Bureau Federation sent a five-page wish list to Congress that included a $38 billion increase in USDA spending power and a guarantee that undocumented farmworkers will not be targeted by immigration agents during the pandemic. (No paywall)
The Trump administration will send billions of dollars in cash to farmers and ranchers to offset low prices caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and it will buy goods to assure there are no gaps in the food supply, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday night. (No paywall)
The USDA is working with a smaller amount of money for coronavirus relief than is commonly believed, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday. He indicated the agency has $15.5 billion at its disposal — two-thirds of the figure that has been widely cited. (No paywall)
Farmers and ranchers would see $23.5 billion in aid under the coronavirus bill agreed on by the Senate and the Trump administration on Wednesday. The two largest U.S. farm groups welcomed the aid but said more may be needed to survive the looming economic slowdown. (No paywall)
As President Trump scored his second trade victory in two days, Senate approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, he asked farmers on Thursday to remember the billions of dollars they had received in trade war payments.