On January 27, 2021, President Biden signed “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” This Executive Order directed federal agencies to coordinate an approach to combat the climate crisis. Recognizing the important role that agriculture and forestry will play in this effort, the Executive Order tasked the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to deliver a report with recommendations for a climate-smart agriculture and forestry (CSAF) strategy.

Recognizing that stakeholder input was key in developing this strategy, the Executive Order also directed the Secretary of Agriculture to collect input from Tribes, farmers, ranchers, forest owners, conservation groups, and other communities. Accordingly, the USDA published a Federal Register Notice to collect input on how to best develop and implement CSAF strategies. The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA), which the Arizona Farm Bureau is a member of, submitted comments with recommendations about how efforts to combat the climate crisis should be voluntary, incentive-based, and data-driven.

After 90 days of deliberation, the USDA published a report on May 20 with recommendations for a CSAF strategy. USDA notes that a successful CSAF strategy will rely on a multistage approach and that this report is the beginning. Below are seven recommended elements of a CSAF strategy:
  1. Prepare USDA to quantify, track, and report the benefits of CSAF activities.
  2. Develop a CSAF strategy that works for all farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and communities.
  3. Leverage existing USDA programs to support CSAF strategies.
  4. Strengthen education, training, and technical assistance for CSAF practices.
  5. Support new and better markets for agriculture and forestry products generated through CSAF practices.
  6. Develop a forest and wildfire resilience strategy.
  7. Improve research.
This report is the beginning of a process and USDA will continue outreach on CSAF. Arizona Farm Bureau was pleased to see that USDA will be developing a strategy that works for all farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners, as many existing programs favor one region or commodity over another. Additionally, it is critical for the USDA to improve research that quantifies the efforts that farmers, ranchers, and foresters have already adopted since this will inform future recommendations.
Arizona Farm Bureau will continue to work with the USDA as they work to implement the CSAF strategy.
To read the report, click here.