Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has multiple agenda items to address as the incoming Chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee. However, the first item of importance is the hearing for incoming USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“We believe that we can move forward and hope to be able to not only have the hearing on Tuesday but move him to the floor and get him to his desk at the USDA as soon as possible,” she said. “We’re lucky to have this experience.”
The other point of focus is new economic opportunities for agriculture, and the ability to be leaders in the climate crisis.
“We can provide voluntary, producer-led opportunities for our farmer and foresters that will allow them to continue to cut down on their emissions and create new sources of income from the adoption of practices that store more carbon in soil and trees,” said Stabenow.
There are several bills before the committee to address this, including the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act.
“Sen. [Mike] Braun (R-Ind.) and I and others who put together a structure and provide the technical expertise to our growers so that they have the information they need and the tools they need to be able to enter the private carbon markets that are there now and being created,” she said.
Perhaps one of the biggest agenda items for Stabenow is the development of the 2023 Farm Bill.
“It takes a lot of effort—we’re going to be using time now to get input on what has worked or not worked, and how we can make things better in the next round and continue to provide strong investments for our farmers so there’s certainty and support for fruits and vegetable growers, the local food systems, and what we do to protect land and water in the farm bill is critical,” said Stabenow.
Despite having six main areas of focus, Stabenow is confident that the committee can work together and get to work right away.
“We’re going to start the year, get the USDA team in place focus on new opportunities for farmers to be part of the solution in the climate crisis and move forward to make sure our farmer have the support they need.”