By Amy Skoczlas Cole

USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie: The Private Sector Is Central to Driving Large-Scale Deployment of Climate-Smart Practices  

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July 27, 2023

Earlier this month, the Trust In Food team gathered our partners in America’s Conservation Ag Movement to discuss private-sector innovation with the USDA in Washington.

Amid the backdrop of historic funding for farmers, I couldn’t be more encouraged by USDA’s engagement with and advocacy for the work being done with private and nonprofit partners in the next 3-5 years and the focus on productivity and profitability for farmers.

“We recognize the importance of productivity in and of itself as a climate solution,” USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie told our ACAM delegation in a private briefing at USDA’s Headquarters. “If you see what’s going on in Europe, essentially reducing productivity as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that’s not a good strategy. All you’re doing is shifting production elsewhere. We have to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while we maintain productivity. That means innovation, technology, and all those things [that the private sector brings].”

There is a critical need to deliver more farmer-centered information about programs and participation. It would be ideal if those messages were aligned, too. With more than 140 pilot projects going to market with Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, producers are likely to receive multiple messages that could affect how they understand, value and engage in programs.

“There’s opportunity for U.S. agriculture to be able to move quickly and do big things relatively quickly,” Bonnie said. “Farmers are ready. Ranchers are ready. Folks in the forest sector are ready … I think we have an opportunity now to build something together … The USDA is a facilitator and we have a role to play, but the private sector is central to this.”

I’ve love to hear how you and your companies are positioning producer benefits in your outreach campaigns. Drop me a line to learn how our research identifies what producers value most so we can collectively make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to align funding with producer sentiment. You can reach me at acole@farmjournal.com

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