Tom Vilsack says farmers must find new income in climate-smart agriculture

In remarks at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2022 National Convention at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on Monday, Jan.10, Vilsack said the US Department of Agriculture is committed to funding pilot and demonstration projects. to help farmers meet this demand and find new income along the way.

“The exciting news is that we are about to provide significant assistance,” said Vilsack. The Ministry of Agriculture is committed to funding projects at the farm level, he said, because “we don’t know everything we need to know, and through pilot and demonstration projects, we can encourage farmers to come together, establish climate smart practices, establish smart products, and do it in a way that makes sense on the ground. ”

Vilsack said the bottom-up approach must be “voluntary and incentive-based”.

He also mentioned working with the land grant university to be able to demonstrate and measure the climate smart practices that the markets will demand.

Vilsack said he was encouraged by the leaders of the Farm Bureau to stress that the money for promoting climate smart projects will come from the Commodity Credit Corporation, “but it will not come at the expense of everything we do. must be done to ensure the performance and implementation of Title I Programs. ”

Vilsack said the new demand should be taken advantage of.

“It’s about creating new sources of income,” he said.

Other talking points during Vilsack’s speech at the Farm Bureau convention included these USDA efforts:

  • Set a goal of doubling the number of acres of cover crops planted in the United States to 20 million acres by 2030.
  • Encourage China to spend an additional $ 16 billion on U.S. agricultural products it pledged to under the phase one trade deal.
  • Work to simplify the process for applying for federal disaster assistance through the USDA.
  • Foster competition in the livestock processing industry with programs to help small and medium processors, better price reporting, and better enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Vilsack also spoke about solutions to supply chain issues plaguing agriculture and other industries.

He said the federal government had been successful in getting ports to extend their hours of operation and set up “pop-up ports” near major coastal ports to help ease congestion. He also said there are now penalties to allow shipping containers to sit empty in ports and block shipments.

One area affected by supply chain issues is fertilizer, where prices have skyrocketed and spring supplies are uncertain.

Vilsack said the USDA has implemented a new risk management tool and crop insurance options available to farmers to make fewer fertilizer applications this year. But he was also optimistic about these long-term supplies.

“I think over the next year or so you will see this supply chain start to catch up with demand and hopefully we will start to see more price stability and hopefully be able to ‘bring those input costs down and continue to maintain good incomes. ”