Vilsack: Biden administration is ‘protecting animal agriculture’ with methane reduction plans


Reducing the variety of livestock is not going to be a precedence for the Biden administration because it seeks to drastically lower methane emissions to stem local weather change, in response to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Instead, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “climate smart” initiatives will concentrate on new sorts of animal feed and manure administration.

“There are a multitude of ways in which we can help the livestock industry, regardless of what type of livestock we’re talking about,” Vilsack instructed Iowa Capital Dispatch on Friday. “We have to be aggressive. We can’t ignore it. We can’t stick our heads in the sand.”

Methane is a potent greenhouse gasoline that, alongside with carbon dioxide, is believed to be a driving power of the planet’s warming local weather. The new Global Methane Pledge seeks to chop methane emissions by 30% this decade.

Cattle are the highest supply of methane in agriculture. One cow can belch greater than 200 kilos of methane annually, in response to researchers on the University of California, Davis. There had been about 3.7 million cattle and calves in Iowa as of January.

Livestock waste additionally emits methane because it decomposes.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is a Republican from New Hartford, Iowa.

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, was skeptical that agricultural methane emissions may very well be lowered with out hurting farmers.

“How are you going to stop cattle from pooping? … You can’t put diapers on cattle,” Grassley mentioned Wednesday throughout a name with Iowa reporters. “If they’re going after animal agriculture, they’re going to look silly.”

But Vilsack, who was Iowa’s governor for eight years, mentioned specialised diets can scale back methane manufacturing in cattle stomachs. One instance: Researchers on the University of New Hampshire have discovered {that a} partial seaweed weight loss program can lower methane emissions from cows.

“With due respect to the senator, this administration is not going after animal agriculture,” Vilsack mentioned. “It’s protecting animal agriculture.”

He mentioned repeatedly that the administration doesn’t have plans to shrink livestock populations.

More than 30 international locations, together with the United States, launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate this week, with a promise of billions of {dollars} to assist scale back agricultural greenhouse gasoline emissions within the subsequent 5 years.

Vilsack’s feedback got here amid the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, Scotland, the place Vilsack mentioned he has met with agricultural officers from different international locations to debate the initiatives.

“There is a growing understanding that we do share a common challenge with reference to climate,” he mentioned. “And I think we wanted to reinforce that there may be a common vision of where all this ends up with net-zero agriculture.”

A spokesperson for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association declined to touch upon the difficulty. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association inspired the Biden administration in September to “maintain an open dialogue with experts in agriculture.”