U.S. Farmers Look for Government Help to Support Biden's Climate Plans


By Jacob Bunge, Dow Jones Newswires

via MarketScreener - 05/01/2021 


A White House goal to slash U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions hinges in part on farmers and agriculture companies changing the way they manage fields and feedlots. The farm sector says it will need the government's help to make it happen.


The Biden administration effort outlined in April has drawn support from agribusiness giants including Tyson Foods Inc., JBS SA, Cargill Inc. and CF Industries Holdings Inc., which have been pursuing their own environmental commitments. Individual farmers, whose participation is critical to meeting the administration's goals, are weighing the potential costs and benefits to their bottom lines, and say government support will be needed.


Near Loyal, Okla., farmer Clay Pope for years has followed some of the carbon-reduction practices being promoted by the Biden administration, including keeping vegetation on his fields even when his usual crops, such as wheat, aren't growing. While his harvests have increased, he said, so have his costs.


"It's not cheap," Mr. Pope said.


President Biden has called for cutting U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 50% to 52% by 2030, compared with the baseline year of 2005. He said farmers could help achieve the goal -- and benefit from it. In his speech Wednesday before Congress, Mr. Biden said farmers could be paid for planting cover crops that remove more carbon from the atmosphere.


The farm sector produces about 10% of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, with fertilizer application and livestock operations representing top sources, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.


Some U.S. Department of Agriculture programs can help reduce farms' greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the agency, including incentives to plant trees, reduce soil erosion and curb overuse of fertilizer. The USDA in April increased payments and added new incentives under its Conservation Reserve Program, which the agency said can mitigate climate change.


Big agricultural companies, responding to consumer and investor pressure, have made voluntary commitments...