WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, delivered the following remarks in support of the Growing Climate Solutions Act:
Our farmers, ranchers and foresters are the greatest stewards of the land, and many have been working for a long time to preserve natural resources and protect the environment through on-farm practices.
And now, more than ever, farmers, ranchers and private forest land owners are looking to explore opportunities to benefit financially through emerging voluntary environmental credit markets.
New opportunities to generate benefits through environmental practices hold a great deal of promise. However, producers and land-owners must navigate a complex and costly landscape in order to access these markets.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act provides a framework for producers to access technical assistance, guidance and resources in these emerging markets as they investigate whether to pursue this new opportunity.
USDA certification of entities who will assist farmers in how best to navigate these markets will improve market integrity and provide farmers and ranchers more confidence as they take the first steps.
The information gathered by USDA through the certification process will serve as a reliable resource to producers seeking to learn about both the entities involved and the practices being implemented to generate credits that are transacted in voluntary environmental credit markets.
These markets and the key players are evolving very quickly, and this bill directs USDA to first assess the current state of voluntary environmental credit markets because it is important that we all have an understanding of the landscape first.
Further, this bill is farmer-friendly. It acknowledges that for farmers and ranchers to be successful there cannot be a “one-size fits all” approach. A corn farmer in Indiana, a cherry farmer in Michigan, and a rice farmer in Arkansas have different soil types, and varying potential for carbon sequestration.
So, this bill recognizes the diversity of agriculture and the practices that may be employed by farmers. It provides educational resources for producers who decide this new market opportunity works for their unique business model.
The bill ensures farmers comprise a majority on the USDA advisory committee, and protects the information farmers and ranchers share as part of the program.
For these markets to work, they must work for our farmers, foresters and ranchers, and landowners. In order to do that, they must be at the table as these markets develop. This bill provides our stakeholders that voice.
Finally, this bill epitomizes a great deal of bipartisan work while addressing pressing needs of farmers, ranchers and foresters. I want to thank Senators Braun and Stabenow for their commitment to working with me, addressing many of the concerns that we had at the outset, and making this the best bill possible.
Many farmers and stakeholders are excited about this legislation, as are many members who co-sponsored the bill and voted to report it out of committee.
The bipartisan nature of the work of the Committee was exciting to see. We came together and accomplished something significant. I hope this spirit of cooperation continues as Congress considers new policies on climate change. We need to ensure that any policies are farmer-friendly and farmer-focused, remain voluntary, and avoid a one-size fits all approach.
Again, thank you to Chairwoman Stabenow and Senator Braun for their efforts. I very much support the bill and look forward to final passage.
Thank you. I yield back.