Farm group sees potential in USDA climate-smart program

A leading state farm group says USDA’s $1 billion climate-smart program announced earlier this month could be positive for rural revitalization.

Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins tells Brownfield the program will boost to the ag economy if it creates more value-added opportunities in the heartland – like new grain and meat processing facilities.

“A lot of what the Secretary is talking about does align with, in many respects, what we’re talking about from a rural revitalization standpoint,” Hawkins said. “But we have to ask questions, we have to engage to make sure that what, ultimately, is put out makes sense for us in Missouri.”

But he said details are needed on Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s desire to expand conservation practices through the program.

“We’re already doing conservation well and we’re willing to do even more,” Hawkins said. “But it needs to makes sense and fit within the context of what we do on our farms and ranches.

And he said farmers and ranchers need to want to participate in the coming program.

“We have said that for years with the EQIP program [and] NRCS, don’t make it too difficult where farmers don’t want to do it,” he said. “And so, let’s keep it practical, let’s keep it common sense.”

Brownfield interviewed Hawkins at the Missouri Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference last week.

Garrett Hawkins Interview

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