Washington, DC – The Bipartisan Policy Center today announced a new Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Task Force to identify effective climate change mitigation opportunities for agriculture and forestry lands. Working with these rural communities, the task force will develop federal policy and program recommendations that encourage sustainable land management practices that improve their profitability, increase carbon storage, and reduced emissions.
The task force will be co-chaired by former Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), both served on the Senate Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition Committee.
Agriculture accounts for about 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, but innovations in cropland and livestock management could dramatically reduce the impact. Forests absorb the equivalent of about 15% of America’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, yet the loss of forests to development and emissions from wildfire threaten to negate this natural carbon sink.
“Rural Americans are seeing the effects of climate change in prolonged droughts, shifting growing seasons, and wildfires,” said Heitkamp. “We need to develop a policy agenda that not only strengthens our working lands against these changes but understands the integral part they have to play in addressing climate change.”
To encourage private sector participation, the Department of Agriculture will need better tools to help producers and landowners measure the positive climate impacts of their stewardship activities and craft sustainability plans for their operations, including working with minority and tribal producers who historically have not received the attention they deserve from USDA.
“Only by partnering with farmers, ranchers and forest owners can we encourage them to undertake the types of voluntary stewardship practices needed to address climate change,” said Chambliss. “Incentivizing innovative cropland and livestock management or finding new uses for wood products, can lead to reduced emissions while ensuring these businesses are productive and profitable for generations.”
“The Bipartisan Policy Center believes agriculture and forestry are among the key economic sectors that have an important role to play in a national framework to address the risks of climate change,” said Sasha Mackler, director of BPC’s Energy Project. “The contribution of natural solutions alongside the energy transition is critical for carbon management and offers a large opportunity for new revenue streams, jobs, and economic growth to these industries.”
The full task force membership will be announced in the coming weeks, and will work to:
- Foster open policy dialogue with recognized leaders from government, agriculture, forestry, conservation, and rural communities.
- Provide an authoritative knowledge base for informed debate on natural carbon policy solutions.
- Identify and confront the barriers facing farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to implement voluntary stewardship practices.
- Develop actionable policy recommendations for scaling up public and private investments in carbon storage and emissions reductions on our working lands.