According to the Biden administration, American agriculture faces unique national security threats, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased ransomware attacks, climate change, and the Avian influenza outbreak.
This comes at a time when the White House is adamant about its plans for “climate-smart commodities and rural projects,” through which it is investing $2.8 billion in 70 selected initiatives around the country.
The Biden administration’s climate-related agriculture programs aim to reduce emissions from the U.S. farm sector, which create more than 10% of the total greenhouse gas emissions.
In practice, these “climate-smart” projects attempt to regreen for the purpose of increasing biodiversity and also producing food commodities in a more sustainable way.
It focuses, for instance, on crop cover and reducing tillage, as well as carbon capture and swapping out the use of wet cow manure — the creation of which accounts for a large amount of a farm’s greenhouse gas emissions — for dry manure like composting.
The administration’s move echoes the investments made in Europe into sustainable farming, with a substantial difference that speaks in its favor: contrary to the European approach of reducing farmland, and even subsidizing farmers to give up livestock (which has led to major protests in the Netherlands), the “climate-smart” funding opportunities guide farmers to innovative solutions instead of paying them to essentially give up.
In this sense, the Biden administration does not copy-paste the mistakes that the Europeans are committing.
That said, the White House is not consistent — many of the ambitions the climate-smart programs are supposed to achieve are incompatible with previous regulations.
Take the very important aspect of soil disruption.
Tillage is an important aspect of farming because it manages crop residues, controls weeds, and prepares the soil for planting.
However, tillage also disrupts soil organic carbon, releasing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and reducing soil productivity.
This is why some farmers have adopted no-till practices (sometimes known as conservation agriculture), which allow them to remain productive without tilling.
In organic farming, no-till is criticized because it requires the use of chemical herbicides to fight pests, something the organic farming sector rejects outright.
The Biden administration is cracking down on the available herbicides catalogue by restricting certain products through the EPA, as I’ve explained for Newsmax before.
It appears the executive wants to have its cake and eat it too, by both arguing for carbon storage, all while depriving farmers of the tools to guarantee that CO2 remains in the soil.
Even though no-till is technically possible in organic farming, its applications are very marginal and currently more experimental than practical use cases.
Conservation agriculture is an essential aspect of the carbon dioxide reduction targets of the farming sector.
Those opposed to the use of chemical pesticides are pushing an agenda that hurts the efforts of farmers to be carbon-efficient.
It is also important to point out that per-acre use of pesticides has declined by 40% and that new technologies also cut pesticide persistence in half, reducing the number of active ingredients by 95%.
The United States also uses a significantly lower amount of pesticides per acre compared to developed farming countries in Europe, as FAO stats reveal.
The organic farming lobby has argued consistently for more federal funding for their industry. However, organic farming emits more carbon dioxide emissions and reduces biodiversity and wildlife by using considerably more farmland than conventional practices.
If Joe Biden wants to make true on his promises to make farming more eco-friendly, he needs to let go of Obama-era attempts to crack down on modern crop protection.
Bill Wirtz is the senior policy analyst at the Consumer Choice Center, focusing on new technology, agriculture, trade and lifestyle regulations. He recently published “No Copy-paste: What not to Emulate from Europe’s Agriculture Regulations.” Read Bill Wirtz’s Reports — More Here.
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