Sworn into office yesterday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order restoring U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement. SfL endorses this move because the future of agriculture is being shaped at this global negotiating table, and we need the presence and leadership of the United States government to ensure that the needs and contributions of U.S. farmers, ranchers and foresters are met and maximized.
These discussions involve much more than pathways to reduce and sequester greenhouse gasses. They also include pragmatic ways to adapt, improve resilience and sustainably intensify production of food, fiber and a wide range of ecosystem system services provided by sustainably managed farms, ranches and woodlands.
Through our direct participation in the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention, we have had a close-up view of what is happening on this stage. Well-organized coalitions are using this platform to advance a transformational reform agenda based on the premise that current agricultural systems are broken and a root cause of climate change. Included in their ranks are animal rights, plant-based diet, environmental, social justice, health and nutrition and other activists who argue that agriculture is the problem, not the solution, and the only way forward to save the planet is to change how we farm and what we eat.
Some of their ideas have merit and are worth exploring. But their wholesale rejection of innovation and technology, a hallmark of the continuous improvement that U.S. agriculture has demonstrated over centuries, and their full-throated endorsement of silver-bullet approaches to food and fiber production, are not rooted in science and need to be countered. That’s why SfL participates and why U.S. government engagement is so critically important.
As a science-based industry, we are learning more about how climate related challenges will likely intensify in the coming years. National and global climate assessments, as well as state evaluations of their respective climate vulnerabilities, make very clear the challenges we all have ahead of us are mounting and require action now.
Like it or not, agriculture is a principal discussion topic in the UNFCCC. The conversations that take place and the decisions that are reached will shape the future of U.S. agriculture. It is often said that “the world is run by those who show up,” and the United States agricultural sector takes itself out of that category when it refuses to come to the table.
We applaud the growing number of agricultural leaders and organizations that recognize the threat that climate change poses and are stepping up to help shape an appropriate response. SfL stands ready to work with global, national and industry decision makers to fully enable land-based solutions to global challenges.