06.24.20

Chairman Roberts Hears Agricultural Perspectives on Climate Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a hearing on S. 3894, The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020.

“Maintaining the health of our planet for future generations is, of course, of paramount importance. So is feeding the billions of people that populate the Earth today and in the years ahead,” said Roberts. 

“In order for these two distinct needs to be met, there must be meaningful acknowledgement and support for the role technology plays in feeding more and more hungry people. Growing demand and production must be balanced with consideration for impacts on soil, water, and other natural resources.”

To watch the hearing and read testimony, click here.

Click here to watch Chairman Roberts’ opening statement. Below are Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery.

I call this hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to order.

Today, we will hear stakeholder perspectives on S. 3894, the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020, introduced by Senator Braun and cosponsored by our Committee Ranking Member, Senator Stabenow.

Before we kick things off, I must thank our witnesses for their willingness to participate in our first-ever hearing conducted in this fashion—where some participants are here in person and some are joining us remotely through technology.

Once again, members of the Agriculture Committee are demonstrating that bipartisanship is still alive and well when it comes to agricultural policy.

Senator Braun is one of the newest Members of this Committee, and I commend him for rolling up his sleeves and getting to work right away. Senator Braun has demonstrated the work ethic one would expect from somebody who is a farmer and a forester from Indiana.

S. 3894 would assist growers in monetizing voluntary conservation practices on their farms, ranches, forests, and businesses.

This legislation establishes a program at the Department of Agriculture to certify third party technical service providers who assist farmers to capture carbon credits through voluntary conservation practices.

The challenges that have confronted the entire food value chain during the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated the vital importance of stable and resilient food production on a planet that experiences pandemics and natural disasters.

Over the past several months, farmers and ranchers have continued to do their work and the agricultural value chain continues to operate, though not without challenges.

Agricultural productivity has been largely stable. Cows continue to graze in pastures and be finished in feed yards in Kansas and other states. Crops continue to be planted and harvested.

At the same time, some have pointed out that the unprecedented disruption to the economy and limits to our commuting, vacationing, and international travel has resulted in drastic, short-term declines in global greenhouse gas emissions.

A recent study published in the Journal “Nature Climate Change” has estimated that our global emissions have been cut by 17 percent as human travel during the global pandemic has slowed.

Maintaining the health of our planet for future generations is, of course, of paramount importance. So is feeding the billions of people that populate the Earth today and in the years ahead. 

In order for these two distinct needs to be met, there must be meaningful acknowledgement and support for the role technology plays in feeding more and more hungry people. Growing demand and production must be balanced with consideration for impacts on soil, water, and other natural resources.  

I also want to emphasize the importance of accurate data in any climate-related discussion.

How much have improved farming technologies and practices already accomplished in sequestering carbon? What roles should USDA have in gathering data and conducting analysis on greenhouse gas emissions? 

There is certainly no other agency or Committee in Congress that prioritizes and understands farmers, producers, ranchers, private foresters and rural agricultural businesses as well as the USDA and the Agriculture Committees.

Farmers and ranchers manage unique risk, such as the weather, the global marketplace, and agriculture production cycles.  Further, regulatory burdens can add costs and hinder common sense innovation.

Thus it is essential that those who provide the basis for policy decisions in this arena have a strong understanding of the complexity of these businesses’ risks and production environments.        

Today, I look forward to hearing from the panel their perspectives on this legislation. And, I hope to learn more about the actions that are already underway in the agricultural sector to address some of these challenges and opportunities. 

With that, I recognize the ranking member, Senator Stabenow for any remarks.    

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