USDA Aims to Make Agriculture “Climate-Smart” | Cape Law Firm

Climate Impacts

USDA Aims to Make Agriculture “Climate-Smart”

USDA recently announced a bold initiative for addressing carbon emissions in agriculture and creating market opportunities for “climate-smart” agricultural practices. Seizing on the growing momentum to address agriculture’s climate impacts, USDA is considering using the Commodity Credit Corporation to provide financing for developing markets for climate-smart commodities. Using the CCC to address climate change marks an interesting pivot in the policy and philosophy for the government-owned corporation established in the New Deal era. Senior USDA officials have taken the view that carbon is a commodity, thus, the CCC’s commodity-focused mission justifies its use in climate-change initiatives. According to CCC’s newly posted Federal Register notice, a “climate-smart commodity” is “an agricultural commodity that is produced using farming practices that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or sequester carbon.”

Last week Secretary Vilsack announced that $3 billion in CCC funds will be used to address a number of urgent challenges, including drought relief and adoption of “water-smart” ag management practices. USDA’s move to deploy CCC’s funds in new ways shows it is willing to advance climate goals without waiting for Congress which is embroiled in debate over the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill containing up to $28 billion for ag conservation programs.

Waterhemp takes herbicide resistance to the next level

University of Illinois researchers recently confirmed that waterhemp, a problematic weed in the corn belt, has acquired resistance to a herbicide that has never been commercialized. The discovery is increasing concern around metabolic-based herbicide resistance where the plant develops the ability to detoxify herbicides before the chemical reaches the susceptible part of the plant (the target site). “Metabolic resistance is dangerous because it could confer resistance to a yet-to-be-discovered herbicide.” If metabolic resistance continues to grow in plant populations, it could mean the end of chemical control of weeds.

Missouri Seedsmen’s Assoc. celebrates 75th Anniversary

We attended the Missouri Seedsmen’s Association annual meeting at Lake of the Ozarks last week where the group celebrated their 75th Anniversary. In addition to supporting the Missouri agricultural seed industry, the Association provides several scholarships to students in agricultural majors. Check out their Facebook page.

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