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USDA Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry: Request for Comments

Fluctuating water supply and reliability throughout the U.S. has the potential to have major implications for rural communities, farmers, agricultural operators, ranchers, forest owners, and other stakeholders. Adapting to this future will require changes to current operations. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently seeking public comment to inform its strategy on climate-smart agriculture and forestry. Ideas related to irrigation efficiency or water use and innovative forestry and agricultural practices, among others, could be important aspects of that strategy and this comment period is a valuable opportunity for relevant stakeholders to share their knowledge and expertise with the USDA.

What: The USDA is seeking public comment to inform its strategy on climate-smart agriculture and forestry.

Background: On Jan. 27, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. As part of this EO, USDA must submit recommendations for an “agricultural and forestry climate strategy.” To ensure relevant information, issues and perspectives are considered when developing the strategy, USDA is currently collecting public comment to guide their recommendations.

When: The comment period ends April 29, 2021 (11:59 pm EST). To submit public comment, visit http://www.regulations.gov and search for the Docket No. USDA-2021-0003.

More Info: USDA provides a list of questions to guide public comment and has organized the questions into four categories:

  • Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry: Questions pertain to incentivizing voluntary climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices and supporting carbon and greenhouse gas markets;
  • Biofuels, Wood and Other Bioproducts and Renewable Energy: Questions relate to encouraging the use of biofuels for transportation, sustainable bioproducts (e.g., wood products) and renewable energy, supporting rural economies, green jobs and the adoption of renewable energy technologies (e.g., renewable natural gas from livestock, solar, wind);
  • Addressing Catastrophic Wildfire: Questions seek input on strategies for reducing wildfire risk, how USDA agencies can work more cohesively across programs and the role other stakeholders (e.g., state, local, tribal governments) should play in addressing wildfires; and
  • Environmental Justice and Disadvantaged Communities: Questions seek feedback related to ensuring strategies/resources are available to all landowners, producers, and communities and the best way for USDA to provide technical assistance and outreach and ensure that opportunities are implemented equitably.

This public comment period is an important opportunity for landowners, farmers, forest managers and relevant community groups to provide their knowledge and input to ensure a cohesive and effective strategy is developed for climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices. The full list of questions and further information on the procedure for submitting comments can be found here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/03/16/2021-05287/notice-of-request-for-public-comment-on-the-executive-order-on-tackling-the-climate-crisis-at-home

Authors

Bill McGrath, Shareholder and Elisabeth Esposito, Associate

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