Vilsack says climate action, state appointees coming shortly | 2021-09-20 | Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Biden administration will be announcing new steps on agriculture and climate “very, very shortly” and also will start filling the department’s state-level leadership positions within days.

Speaking Monday to the annual Ag Outlook Forum in Kansas City, Missouri, sponsored by Agri-Pulse and the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City, Vilsack provided no details about the department’s coming announcements on climate policy, but he said it would be clear that the administration has paid attention to concerns expressed by the ag industry.

“We’ve listened very, very carefully on this issue of climate, and we’ve heard some really good advice from farmers and ranchers and those who represent farmers and ranchers on how best a structured approach would be most accepted,” Vilsack said.

In May, USDA issued a progress report on its climate strategy that focused on measuring the impact of climate-friendly practices, taking steps to facilitate private carbon markets and ensuring all farmers can benefit financially from addressing climate change.

The plan suggested USDA could help support carbon credit prices but emphasized the use of private markets to compensate farmers for carbon-conserving practices.

Ahead of the report’s release, many farm and environmental groups filed comments that called on USDA to prioritize climate change in conservation programs and to consider changes to crop insurance that would promote the use of cover crops and other carbon-conserving practices.

Filling senior-level positions at USDA continues to be a challenge for Vilsack and he looks to carry out President Joe Biden’s policy priorities.

Vilsack said announcements about a “significant number” of state-level appointments would start in “late September and into October.” The posts include state leaders for Farm Service Agency and Rural Development offices.

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