USDA seeks public input on climate-smart ag and forestry strategy

By Erin Voegele | March 15, 2021

The USDA on March 15 announced it is opening a 45-day public comment period to gather input on its climate-smart agriculture and forestry strategy, including several topics focused specifically on biofuels, bioproducts and renewable energy.

The agency said the notice soliciting public comments represents an import step toward implementing President Biden’s Jan. 27 executive order on tacking the climate crisis at home and abroad. That order states, that “America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels.” The order directs the USDA to solicit input from stakeholders as the agency develops a climate-smart agriculture and forestry approach.

“USDA is committed to addressing climate change through actions that are farmer, rancher, and forest landowner-focused and that create new market opportunities for the sector in a fair and equitable way,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We want your ideas on how to position the agriculture and forestry sectors to be leaders on climate smart practices to mitigate climate change. This includes making the most of USDA programs, developing new USDA-led climate strategies, strengthening existing markets and developing new markets that generate income.”

The notice seeks information on four topics, including climate-smart agriculture and forestry; biofuels, bioproducts, and renewable energy; catastrophic wildfire; and meeting the needs of disadvantaged communities through USDA’s climate strategy.

The notice asks members of the public to provide input on three specific questions related to biofuels, bioproduct and renewable energy. First, the USDA asks how the agency should utilize programs, funding and financing capacities and other authorities to encourage greater use of biofuels for transportation, sustainable bioproducts (including wood products), and renewable energy. Second, the agency asks how incorporating climate-smart agriculture and forestry into biofuel and bioproducts feedstock production systems can support rural economies and green jobs. Finally, the USDA asks how it can support adoption and production of other renewable energy technologies in rural America, such as renewable natural gas from livestock, biomass power, solar and wind.

The public comment period is open through April 30. Comments can be submitted online via under Docket No. USDA-2021-0003. Additional information is available on the USDA website