Senator Stabenow Welcomes Secretary Vilsack to Talk Climate with Michigan Farmers, Foresters

Monday, June 14, 2021

EAST LANSING, Mich. – In a roundtable Friday, U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan’s 8th Congressional District met with farmers, foresters and conservation groups from across Michigan to discuss ways producers can lead in addressing the climate crisis, and the need for more resources for climate-smart agriculture and forestry programs.


“Michigan farmers and foresters are on the front lines of the climate crisis, but as we heard firsthand yesterday, they are also a big part of the solution,” said Chairwoman Stabenow. “It was great to welcome Secretary Vilsack back to Michigan to hear the successes and challenges our producers are seeing on the ground and trade ideas on how USDA and Congress can help them be successful.”


Much of the roundtable discussion focused on the need for more resources for conservation and to help producers make sense of the emerging landscape of carbon marketplaces.                                                                                             


“We heard from a broad range of producers and conservation groups that they’re doing groundbreaking work on climate within their own operations already, and if we can scale that work up on more acres across the country, we can start to see a real difference. That’s going to take serious investment in climate-smart agriculture, forestry and research programs, and I’m pushing for that as part of the American Jobs Plan,” Chairwoman Stabenow said.


“We also heard that because effective conservation practices enable them to store carbon in their soil and trees, many farmers and foresters want to engage in carbon markets, but don’t know where to start,” Chairwoman Stabenow added. “That’s a huge part of what my Growing Climate Solutions Act and Rural Forest Markets Act do, and I was happy to hear strong support in the room for these initiatives as well.”


The event concluded with a tour of Michigan State University’s STEM Teaching and Learning Facility, the first mass timber building in the state, built following passage of Stabenow’s Timber Innovation Act, which invests in research and development into mass timber.


“This beautiful building is a perfect example of the kind of innovation we need to move us forward in addressing the climate crisis,” said Chairwoman Stabenow. “As we heard from the engineers and designers on our tour, mass timber not only stores more carbon and represents a more sustainable supply chain, it’s a valuable new market for foresters.  It is also a more resilient and in many cases, less expensive alternative to traditional materials. It’s absolutely a win-win-win.”