Ag Policy Blog

Stabenow, Boozman Offer Different Takes on USDA Climate Initiative

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, credited USDA for providing drought relief and providing funds for climate-smart agricultural projects. Sen. John Boozman, ranking member of the committee, wants to hold a hearing on USDA using Commodity Credit Corp. funds for climate projects. (image from official photos)

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., praised Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's announcement Wednesday of a package to tackle challenges in agriculture, animal health and nutrition, while Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member of the committee, issued a mixed reaction on the climate initiative.

USDA announced the $3 billion package on Wednesday as Vilsack gave a speech in Colorado on climate issues.…

Stabenow said, "I'm pleased USDA is using its resources to strengthen our food and farm supply chain. These investments address some of our most pressing challenges – from the climate crisis to pandemic recovery. Not only will USDA resources help farmers recover from droughts and prevent the spread of African swine fever disease, they will fund innovative climate solutions so farmers, ranchers, and foresters can continue to tackle the climate crisis. And USDA is providing relief from agricultural market disruptions and shoring up the supply chain to make sure children have reliable access to the healthy meals they need."

Boozman said, "The agriculture community has made great strides in adopting more sustainable production methods. Every farmer, rancher and forester I have spoken with wants to continue to build on those efforts. But what they don't want is a heavy-handed approach that would place unbearable requirements on their ability to operate.

"There are concerns with this latest approach that merit bipartisan, bicameral hearings in tandem with USDA's producer outreach efforts, including whether it is appropriate to use Commodity Credit Corporation funds to implement and carry out this program.

"It is my hope that Secretary Vilsack will come before the committee to explain outreach efforts the department is engaging in and share input that he is receiving from the agriculture community, as well as answer any process questions members may have. It is our responsibility as a committee to conduct oversight on USDA's efforts, and the questions that surround this initiative are a prime example of why that authority exists.

"I want to make sure that 'producer-driven' is more than a talking point. It needs to be the standard. This new program must be informed by producers and foresters who actively work the land to produce the food, fuel and fiber our nation depends upon. Their voices must be heard during this process and congressional oversight is needed to ensure they largely inform the creation of this program."

While Boozman questioned whether producers are involved in the climate projects, a coalition of 80 farm organizations -- the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance -- said it was encouraged that USDA took FACA's advice to focus on pilot projects.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at

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