U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, released the following statement after Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot program to encourage continued producer involvement in addressing climate change:
“The agriculture community has made great strides in adopting more sustainable production methods. Every farmer, rancher and forester I have spoken with wants to continue to build on those efforts. But what they don’t want is a heavy-handed approach that would place unbearable requirements on their ability to operate.
There are concerns with this latest approach that merit bipartisan, bicameral hearings in tandem with USDA’s producer outreach efforts, including whether it is appropriate to use Commodity Credit Corporation funds to implement and carry out this program.
It is my hope that Secretary Vilsack will come before the committee to explain outreach efforts the department is engaging in and share input that he is receiving from the agriculture community, as well as answer any process questions members may have. It is our responsibility as a committee to conduct oversight on USDA’s efforts, and the questions that surround this initiative are a prime example of why that authority exists.
I want to make sure that ‘producer-driven’ is more than a talking point. It needs to be the standard. This new program must be informed by producers and foresters who actively work the land to produce the food, fuel and fiber our nation depends upon. Their voices must be heard during this process and congressional oversight is needed to ensure they largely inform the creation of this program.”