By Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, John R. Block.
With the Biden Presidency approaching, climate change has been elevated to talk and perhaps even action which will affect agriculture and rural America. Powerful voices in our ag industry are forming the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance. The groups involved include the American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. I see these groups that can differ in a whole host of issues coming together because they are afraid of the policies that climate change and the Green New Deal could mean for our industry. Other groups will join the Food and Ag Climate Alliance. You can be sure the food industry will be there, also forestry. I think this alliance has a big challenge. We need to find how agriculture can deal with climate change and at the same time defend our food production industry. A growing world population will need food.
The European Union has a plan – “Farm to Fork” – which is part of the EU Green Deal. They want to make the Union climate neutral by 2050. To accomplish their goal here is what they would do – reduce the use of pesticides by 50%, cut fertilizer by 50%, and increase organic farming by 25%.
A USDA Economic Research Service review concludes that the European plan would result in a 7% to 12% decline in ag production in Europe. EU food prices would rise 17% to 60%. Global food prices would increase by 89% if other countries adapted the EU plan. By 2030 – that’s only 10 years – the world would have as many as 185 million people living with food insecurity. The EU says they can do this Green Deal without seeing reduced production. That’s hard for me to believe. Perhaps the food supply would not fall as much as USDA projects. Countries around the world will take some steps to sequester carbon in the soil and protect water., But if they go to the European extreme, reducing the supply of food, I would expect a big jump in the prices for corn and soybeans – I can’t wait.
John Block served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill. John hosts a weekly radio show going back more than 20 years. The commentary and opinions shared are a summary of the discussion from the broadcast and not a reflection of the opinions of the firm at large. For more from John Block Reports from Washington visit www.johnblockreports.com.