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Responding to Rep. Pingree’s Request, GAO Says More Can Be Done to Boost Climate Resilience in Agriculture

In its report, GAO outlines 13 measures the USDA could use to enhance farmers’ climate resilience, many of which are laid out in Pingree’s landmark Agriculture Resilience Act

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today welcomed a long-awaited report she requested from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess agriculture’s role in fighting climate change. The report, released on Thursday, recommends 13 measures the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) could implement to enhance farmers’ climate resilience and limit federal fiscal exposure from climate change. Many of the GAO’s recommendations are laid out in Pingree’s landmark Agriculture Resilience Act, such as ensuring conservation programs address climate resilience, increasing support for USDA's Climate Hubs, and expanding the capacity of USDA’s conservation programs. 

“As my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee and I work to craft a comprehensive Farm Bill, this report will be immensely helpful in creating fact- and science-based solutions to help our farmers respond to the impacts of climate change. GAO’s report reaffirms what we have long known: that climate change impacts agriculture, and that there are significant opportunities to help farmers adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That is what my Agriculture Resilience Act aims to do, and I’m pleased to see the GAO report confirms the need for many of its measures,” said Pingree. “Ultimately, as the report says, making these investments now will not only help our farmers and help address the climate crisis, but it will also help limit federal fiscal exposure.”

The GAO laid out the following potential options for the USDA to help enhance producers’ climate resilience:

  1. Collect data on practices that enhance climate resilience.
  2. Expand technical assistance to prioritize and promote climate resilience.
  3. Prioritize climate resilience in whole-farm conservation planning.
  4. Expand the capacity and expertise of USDA's Climate Hubs.
  5. Develop an agricultural climate resilience plan that addresses regional needs..
  6. Establish standards for climate-resilient agricultural operations.
  7. Revise the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Practice Standards to include climate resilience.
  8. Expand conservation program eligibility criteria to include and prioritize climate resilience. 
  9. Expand the capacity of USDA’s conservation programs.
  10. Research the feasibility of incorporating climate resilience into crop insurance rates.
  11. Require producer adoption of climate-resilient practices to claim crop insurance premium subsidies.
  12. Offer crop insurance premium subsidies for climate-resilient operations.
  13. Require producer adoption of climate-resilient practices to maintain Farm Bill Title I program eligibility.

Pingree, a longtime organic farmer, is a member of the House Agriculture Committee, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, and ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which she chaired in the 117thCongress. Her Agriculture Resilience Act, which she will reintroduce in the 118th Congress in the coming months, aims to give farmers the tools they need to reach net-zero agricultural emissions by 2040. 



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