NGFA submits climate-smart ag priorities to USDA  

In response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) request for information on its actions to expand the use of “climate-smart agriculture” practices, the NGFA outlined several recommendations, including prioritizing working lands conservation over land idling.

USDA published its request in the Sept. 30 edition of the Federal Register. In comments submitted on Nov. 1, NGFA noted it would support a USDA Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Program that encourages the voluntary adoption of climate-smart practices on working lands and facilitates additional revenue opportunities for farmers, ranchers, landowners and agribusinesses. 

“NGFA strongly supports working land conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), because they provide incentives to help producers adopt best management practices to maintain and expand their output while improving environmental efficiency,” NGFA noted. “In contrast, policies that idle non-environmentally sensitive cropland reduce U.S. agricultural output and market share, hurt rural economies and harm the ability of beginning and disadvantaged farmers to access farmland.”

Any program developed by USDA should not undermine private-sector carbon markets and encourage voluntary, not mandatory, producer and landowner participation, NGFA noted. To be successful, NGFA said USDA’s program must complement and support existing and emerging private-sector initiatives and minimize burdens on participating producers and landowners. 

NGFA answered several questions posed by USDA about the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Program in its full comments addressed to Robert Ibarra, the acting executive vice president of the Commodity Credit Corporation. 

To assist NGFA in addressing the significant issues of climate change and sustainability, NGFA Chairman JoAnn Brouillette appointed NGFA members to serve on the Climate Change and Sustainability Task Force earlier this year. The task force is chaired by Joe Kapraun, manager of the grain marketing division at Growmark. David Fairfield, NGFA’s senior vice president of feed, is the staff lead.