Is cutting agricultural output to save the climate a good idea?

Writing on today’s opinion page of the Elko Daily Free Press, Cheyenne, Wyo., attorney Karen Budd-Falen warns of some of the consequences of the Biden administration’s so-called 30×30 Plan to conserve in its natural or unproductive state 30 percent of the nation’s land and water by 2030. The plan’s stated objective is to avert “a profound climate crisis.”

Budd-Falen notes that by 2030 the world’s population is expected to increase to 8.5 billion people. “To feed all those people, the world needs farmers and ranchers,” she writes. “According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average American farm feeds 166 people, but with the increase in the world’s population, the world’s farmers will have to grow 70% more food than they did in 2019.”

The Biden plan would “use Department of Agriculture programs, funding and financing capacities, and other authorities … to encourage the voluntary adoption of climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices …”

Budd-Falen aptly compares this voluntary compliance to the 1970s “voluntary” 55 mph speed limit. States that did not “voluntarily” lower their speed limits to 55 were denied federal highway funds. Most volunteered.

The attorney notes that the “Department of Agriculture has just significantly increased its ‘payment rates and financial incentives’ to convince landowners to enroll additional acres into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). While landowners have the right to do with their land what they want, I worry about paying agriculturalists not to produce.”

The administration has already canceled its federal oil and gas lease sales under the theory that wind and solar can replace oil, gas and coal, Budd-Falen notes, adding, “I have not found a lot of affordable commercial all-electric tractors that could be used on farming or ranching operations today.”

She concludes with a question no one in the Biden administration seems to be asking: “How are farmers and ranchers going to feed 8.5 billion people in 2030 if there is no American oil and gas for tractors, we are paying landowners not-to-produce or produce less, and multiple use on federal lands is curtailed or eliminated to reach the 30 X 30 Plan goals? And what I am really warning is that the history of the federal government’s ‘voluntary’ 55 mph speed limit NOT be repeated today.”

Profound climate crisis or starvation? Some choice.
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