WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, touted the progress American agriculture has made in reducing its environmental impact while stressing that new programs must be flexible, voluntary and farmer-focused.
During the Senate Agriculture Committee’s hearing on the efforts of farmers and foresters to lead in tackling climate change, Boozman highlighted how the agriculture community has tapped innovative strategies to promote environmental sustainability and conserve natural resources while continuing to increase yields and remain prosperous. He highlighted how chicken, beef, dairy and rice industries have increased production with a significantly reduced environmental impact over recent decades.
“Every crop grown in the U.S. has similar success stories that demonstrate their environmental gains. And U.S. farmers will continue to lead the world in making advancements to improve the environmental sustainability of our food system,” Boozman said.
Boozman noted how “exciting new opportunities to compensate farmers and foresters for these environmental gains hold promise,” but he cautioned there are complex barriers that must be eliminated in this uncertain marketplace.
“There are costs associated with verification, validation, technical services, new technologies and equipment, and often times costs associated with reduced yields. These costs add up, and can become prohibitive. For this new opportunity to be viable for producers and forest owners, the benefits must outweigh the risks and costs they take on,” he said.
Boozman stressed the proper way forward is to ensure that climate change policies pursued by Congress are not mandatory, overly burdensome or cost prohibitive.
“While protecting our climate is critical, we must avoid a heavy-handed government approach that could place unbearable requirements on our small farmers in particular, and likely drive concentration within the agriculture sector,” Boozman said.