NAWG First Vice President Wayne Hurst provided the producer perspective to White House, USDA and other government officials this week at an interagency meeting on climate change held in Denver.
Hurst, a wheat producer from Burley, Idaho, was one of a half dozen producers in attendance at the meeting, a public outreach session of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which was established in 2009 and includes representatives of more than 20 federal agencies.
In his presentation, Hurst walked audience members through how he makes decisions on his farm to maximize production and price potential and minimize risk. He used the example of one wheat field and described how he rotated crops on the field, what soil testing he did, how he chose seed and insurance for the field.
He emphasized that growers are used to taking risk while mitigating that risk as much as possible, and that Congress and USDA offer several tools to help producers do just that. He noted that producers, particularly profitable producers, are willing and able to make quick changes on their operations if it makes sense for their businesses and their families.
He told attendees that NAWG sees the value of USDA taking the lead on energy and climate change policies that affect agriculture. The agency and its officials are well-known to farmers, seen as partners in much of farm country, and many farmers have experience working with USDA on a voluntary basis.
Representatives from the National Farmers Union, Western Growers Association, United Fresh and American Farmland Trust also spoke. During his presentation and in a panel discussion following, Hurst encouraged the involvement of farmers, who are typically outnumbered by conservationists and government officials at meetings like that held this week.
High-level officials attending Monday’s meeting included Shere Abbott, associate director for environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Harris Sherman, under secretary for natural resources and environment at USDA; and William Hohenstein, director of the climate change program office at USDA.
Much more information about the Task Force and a web rebroadcast can be viewed online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/adaptation/publicmeetings.
The PowerPoint used in Hurst’s presentation is available at www.wheatworld.org/environmentalissues.