Conservation, climate, and the farm bill
USDA Undersecretary Robert Bonnie says conservation and climate change will likely be a focal point of the 2023 Farm Bill debate.
He tells Brownfield the goal is to find tools that work best for farmers, ranchers, and foresters. “Practices that are going to make their operations more resilient,” he says. “Things like soil health can both sequester carbon out of the atmosphere, but can also make operations more resilient to things like drought.”
Bonnie says early in the Obama administration many farmers thought climate policy was going to be done to them and not with them.
But, he says, that mindset has changed in the last decade. “What we are really trying to stress right now is that this is going to be voluntary,” he says. “It’s going to be incentive-based. It’s going to be producer-led. We’re going to try and develop tools that maintain the economic viability of agriculture. Even while we address climate change.”
Bonnie says developing a sound climate policy is an opportunity for the ag industry to differentiate itself from the rest of the world’s food and fiber producers.
AUDIO: Robert Bonnie, USDA