Vilsack Says ‘No Time to Waste’ on Farm Climate Initiatives

Source: By Mike Dorning, Bloomberg • Posted: Sunday, March 7, 2021

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he plans to move swiftly on initiatives to lower carbon emissions from farms, aiming to act on climate change programs this year.

“We are going to be very aggressive on this because we have no time to waste,” Vilsack said in an interview Thursday with Bloomberg TV’s “Balance of Power.”

He added that the department will “get focused on this in the first year of the Biden-Harris administration and do what we can to get things started.”

President Joe Biden has made countering climate change one of his top priorities and the administration has set a goal of bringing down net carbon emissions from U.S. agriculture to zero.

Vilsack said his team is looking at redirecting existing farm conservation programs to encourage practices to lower carbon emissions and “the possibility” of support for a carbon market, in which farmers earn payments for verified steps to reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

He said it will be important for competitiveness of U.S. farmers domestically and internationally as consumers demand sustainable agriculture products.

His main climate adviser, Robert Bonnie, argued in a memo during the presidential transition for new USDA initiatives within the first 100 days of a Biden administration.

Vilsack, confirmed last week by the Senate, previously served eight years as Barack Obama’s agriculture secretary.