NEFB Newspaper

President’s Column – September 2022

Climate actions present risks, opportunity for farmers and ranchers

As drought continues to tighten its grip on much of our state, I find myself more and more engaged in conversations centered around climate issues. In my role as Farm Bureau President, I often get asked questions ranging from how we in agriculture are coping with climate change to what farmers and ranchers can do to be part of climate solutions.

I’m quick to let people know that we in agriculture are no stranger to adapting to climate. As we know, our business is founded in adjusting to changing weather patterns and environmental conditions. Every growing season is different. We’re always evolving, always changing, and have for generations.

I’m also quick to point out that farmers and ranchers have and continue to lead the way in adopting and using climate and environment-friendly practices. Cover crops, low-till and no-till farming, improvements in nutrient and water management, enhanced feed efficiencies, pasture rotations and renewable energy generation are but a few examples. Our willingness to adapt and adopt new technologies and practices has allowed us to consistently produce more food with less inputs to the benefit of our environment and our world.

With that in mind, we continue to see a changing landscape as consumers, companies, and government entities pursue actions to broadly limit global greenhouse emissions. Regardless of our individual beliefs in climate change, the collective push for action is real, and is growing. It presents both risk and potential opportunity for farmers and ranchers in what has become a new “Wild West.”

Today, Farm Bureau finds itself fighting to stop a Securities and Exchange Commission regulation that could ultimately force farmers and ranchers to share farm-level greenhouse emissions data with companies that purchase our commodities and livestock. On the flip side, we see private markets developing as companies look to others (i.e. individual farmers) to help to offset their own emissions to meet stockholder demands or comply with environmental regulation.

For example, California’s self-imposed emissions standards have created high demand for clean liquid fuels (i.e. fuels produced with lower carbon emissions). That means opportunity for Nebraska corn producers and Nebraska’s ethanol industry. It’s the reason Nebraskans are seeing development of carbon pipelines that ethanol plants need to transport and store carbon underground in order to achieve the lower carbon emission ethanol that can be sold at a premium into California and other markets.

Farmers and ranchers have much to be proud of in the work we’ve done to enrich the soil, conserve water and reduce emissions. Similarly, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s reputation of being the trusted voice of Nebraska farm and ranch families has opened doors and earned agriculture a spot at the climate discussion table. It’s critical Nebraska Farm Bureau not only participate in climate conversations, but also help direct the discussion to protect our members from overreaching regulations and inform on potential market-based opportunities. As always, we will work closely with industry partners and Climate actions present risks, opportunity for farmers and ranchers lawmakers to identify solutions that keep decisions in the hands of our members and hold back the heavy hands of government.

Until next time,

Mark McHargue

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