Ag Policy Blog

USDA Asks for Comments on Climate-Smart Strategy

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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USDA on Monday asked for comments on how the department will meet the goals of President Joe Biden's order on tackling climate change. The order directs USDA to solicit input from stakeholders. One area under consideration is paying farmers for practices such as adding cover crops. (DTN file photo)

USDA on Monday published a Federal Register notice requesting public input on a climate-smart agriculture and forestry strategy.

The notice follows President Biden's executive order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.

The order, signed January 27, states that, “America's farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels.”

The order directs Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to solicit input from stakeholders. Specifically, the order directs inputs from “tribes, farmers, forest owners, conservation groups, firefighters, and other stakeholders on ow to best use” USDA programs and financing to encourage voluntary adoption of climate-smart practices to reduce wildfire risk and “result in additional, measurable, and verifiable carbon reductions and sequestration and that source sustainable bioproducts and fuels,” the presidential executive order stated.

“USDA is committed to addressing climate change through actions that are farmer, rancher, and forest landowner-focused and that create new market opportunities for the sector in a fair and equitable way,” Vilsack said.

“We want your ideas on how to position the agriculture and forestry sectors to be leaders on climate smart practices to mitigate climate change. This includes making the most of USDA programs, developing new USDA-led climate strategies, strengthening existing markets and developing new markets that generate income.”

The notice seeks information on four topics: climate-smart agriculture and forestry; biofuels, bioproducts, and renewable energy; catastrophic wildfire; and meeting the needs of disadvantaged communities through USDA's climate strategy.

The questions also ask how USDA can leverage existing programs, and what new strategies should USDA explore? Also, how can USDA help support carbon markets, and what data, tools or research is needed to support this mission?

USDA's call for comments comes after the House and Senate Agriculture Committee each held hearings over the past three weeks looking at some of the issues lawmakers and farm organizations want to see addressed in USDA climate policies:

Summary of House hearing on Feb. 26: https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Summary of Senate hearing on March 11: https://www.dtnpf.com/…

The Farm Foundation also is holding a forum on the topics on March 16 as well: https://www.farmfoundation.org/…

The deadline for comments to USDA is April 30. Comments can be submitted through www.regulations.gov

USDA Office of the Chief Economist — Notice of Request for Public Comment on the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/…

The White House — Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad https://www.whitehouse.gov/…

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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