USDA sees climate change included in agricultural and export programs

VAIL, COLO. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture will continue to make climate change a policy issue in agricultural and export programs, department officials said in comments at the 37th International Sweetener Symposium held on May 1. August in Vail.

America’s farmers have the opportunity to be ‘a true hero in our ability to fight climate change’ through productivity improvements and climate-smart practices, but a successful climate program ‘must work for agriculture “said Robert Bonnie, undersecretary at the farm. production and conservation for the USDA, while he described the USDA’s approach to combating climate change by building broad collaborative partnerships in agriculture.

“There is so much diversity in agriculture that the approach to climate change cannot be one that dictates practices for the bottom and the top,” Mr Bonnie said. “It has to be modern. It must be directed by the producer. It must allow farmers, livestock breeders and forest owners to choose the practices that suit them best, and then encourage them to do so.

Left to right, Robert Bonnie and Daniel Whitley.

Initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must recognize the critical role American farmers play in producing a global supply of food and fiber, he said.

“We need to reduce emissions while maintaining and improving productivity,” Mr. Bonnie said. “We need to feed more than 9.5 billion people around the world by the middle of the century. American agriculture is very good in terms of productivity and efficiency. That’s why I’m optimistic about the ability of American farmers and forest owners to deal with climate change.

Mr. Bonnie highlighted the importance of crop insurance as a risk management tool, saying “crop insurance is critically important to so many people in agriculture.” He noted that there are ways to increase accessibility to crop insurance while improving the products available to farmers.

Earlier in the day, Daniel Whitley, administrator of the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, said climate change is included in all USDA negotiations regarding foreign trade, while guarding against other countries using climate change disguised as a trade barrier.

Mr. Whitley noted that although the Biden administration has not negotiated new free trade agreements, it has managed to negotiate several targeted agreements, such as beef exports to Japan and potato exports. to Mexico.

“The resilience and reliability” of US agriculture is key to boosting US agricultural exports, Whitley said, adding that other countries want to buy from the United States because “they can rely on us.”

Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa are key regions the United States will target to increase trade, Whitley said.

The U.S. will also be “more aggressive in holding our trading partners accountable,” Whitley said, noting recent talks with Canada on dairy issues under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal. . At the same time, he said he had never seen better working relations between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

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