The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing on Tuesday dedicated to the issue of climate change and the agricultural sector. Four witnesses – including two farmers, a professor of animal science, and the previous Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack – presented verbal testimony on the effects of climate change on agricultural production and livelihoods, the role of agriculture in mitigation and adaptation efforts, and potential policy solutions.
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted written testimony, thanking the committee for addressing the harmful effects of climate change on the agricultural industry and emphasizing the need for federal policies that assist farmers with the implementation of practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon, and build resilience to extreme weather events.
“Climate change is not a future or hypothetical issue for family farmers and ranchers – they are already suffering its effects every day,” said Johnson in a statement. “Farmers Union members understand the urgent threat that climate change poses to agriculture, and they want to do everything they can to lessen the damage. But this work isn’t free or easy – it often requires significant time, money, and expertise.”
He urged the committee to “continue providing farmers with the tools they need” by expanding and enhancing U.S. Department of Agriculture programs that provide farmers with financial and technical assistance for conservation efforts. He also recommended that Congress commit to “robust investments in public agricultural research as well as the creation of market-based incentives for climate-smart practices.”
This is not the first Congressional hearing specifically dedicated to the issue of climate and agriculture, but it is the first so far in this administration. The last hearing of this nature was held nearly a decade ago, at which Johnson and Vilsack both presented verbal testimony The first-everCongressional hearing on climate and agriculture, entitled “The Potential Impact of Global Warming on Agriculture,” occurred in 1988.