Ag Summit Makes Crucial Connection Between Climate Policy and Producers

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Mar 26, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC -- This week, hundreds of ag leaders, industry experts, scientists, and government officials gathered virtually for the annual Agri-Pulse Ag & Food Policy Summit.  Hosted online due to pandemic restrictions, the summit featured three days of panel discussions and presentations.  This year’s summit focused on climate change policy and how it affects agriculture, with many topics centering on carbon sequestration and reduction.  Climate change, and especially carbon emissions, are a top priority for the Biden Administration.

Many ag industry speakers at the summit stressed that painting the issue with one brush is not the answer, and encouraged policymakers to consider the individual needs and strengths of each sector.

“Carbon sequestration looks very different wherever you are,” said Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union, during a panel discussion.  “Some places it may be difficult, or tough to measure.  We need to look at it broadly, with a whole suite of programs.”

During an address to summit attendees, Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) specifically praised Arkansas rice farmer Mark Isbell’s recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry as the perfect example of how climate change policy must be tailored to each industry, and that voluntary efforts by farmers need to be recognized and taken into account.  Isbell’s testimony on behalf of the rice industry has made an impression in Washington, DC, even to members that do not represent rice-growing areas.

Overall, all of those speaking at the summit agreed that it was necessary and valuable for the ag industry to be having these climate change conversations.

“We as a group, from all facets of agriculture and environmentalism, are sitting down and leading this conversation,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.  “Farmers were the first conservationists.  We are environmentalists.  But it has to make business sense and keep our farms economically sustainable.”