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Increasingly volatile weather combined with consumer pressure have led much of the agriculture sector to explore how to reorient farming and ranching’s role in combating climate change. The transition from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration brings a renewed focus on federal policy and its role in addressing climate change. Most of the discussions, from industry to former USDA officials to the Biden Administration, primarily focus on how best to incentivize (i.e. subsidize) adoption of climate-smart practices by agricultural businesses. Little focus is given to how federal farm safety net policies at times actively discourage or unintentionally erect roadblocks to agricultural businesses adopting various conservation practices to improve soil health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or increase other environmental benefits while improving the operation’s financial health.
While lawmakers explore the merits of increased federal spending to improve agriculture’s contribution to efforts to combat climate change, they must also work to reorient existing programs. Farmers and ranchers, as well as taxpayers footing the bill, need to focus on increasing the economic resilience of agricultural businesses to navigate the effects of climate change.
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