Washington, D.C. (September 29, 2021)—The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today applauded Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s announcement of a new partnership to promote climate-friendly farming practices.
In a speech at Colorado State University, Secretary Vilsack outlined the department’s vision for a new Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative that will support pilot programs to partner with stakeholders interested in voluntarily collaborating to test wide-ranging ideas that sequester carbon and reduce GHG emissions on farms and working lands. The secretary noted that the initiative drew heavily from the recommendations released in May by the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, which NCFC co-chairs.
“USDA’s Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative will support the efforts of producers interested in exploring new, innovative approaches to farming that help address the challenge of climate change,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “This is vital, since farmer co-ops know firsthand that customers for our agricultural products are increasingly giving preference to those produced with climate-friendly farming practices. We believe that this partnership will help prepare American agriculture to meet those requirements and believe that farmer co-ops are well positioned to play a key role in projects that bring producers together in this way.”
In addition, Conner also commended several other announcements made by Secretary Vilsack in his remarks. These include $500 million to support drought recovery; $500 million for the prevention of African Swine Flu; $500 million for relief from agricultural market disruptions such as the transportation challenges being experienced at ports on the West Coast; and $1.5 billion to help school nutrition programs respond to supply chain disruptions.
“While the partnership initiative addresses the long-term challenge of climate change, Secretary Vilsack’s announcement of $3 billion of investments from the Commodity Credit Corporation to address short-term challenges stemming from the pandemic are also critical to farmers and ranchers,” Conner said. “Especially notable for many co-ops and their farmer-owners is funding to address market disruptions. Our members continue to see their commodities and food products sitting in ports on the West Coast awaiting shipment while containers return to China and other Asian countries empty; adding to concerns are unprecedented backlogs of ships anchored off the coast waiting for port space. The funding announced today, while not a solution to the situation, will help offset some of the losses faced by producers.”
Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn composed of nearly 2,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country. NCFC members also include 26 state and regional councils of cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets.
America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity. They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.