The term “Climate-Smart Agriculture” has received a lot of news coverage recently, and those are the latest buzz words in the farm industry. That’s why Ted McKinney, former Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, is now working in Washington D.C. to make sure the ag community is leading the direction on climate-related policies.
“You can walk and chew gum at the same time, and I think that’s probably a good analogy on what we have to do,” said McKinney, who is now CEO of the National Association of the State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) after also having served as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs for President Trump.
He says NASDA and other ag organizations are working to control the narrative on “climate-smart agriculture.”
“A lot of that is what farmers are already doing: no till or minimum till farming, planting cover crops, using judicial amounts of pesticides and fertilizer – all the things that a lot of farmers are already doing is climate smart ag,” according to McKinney.
However, he says he is concerned that environmental groups are the ones trying to beat the ag industry to the punch in setting up standards and certifications for crops and livestock.
“My worry though, is that we’re so focused, or ‘crazed’ might be the better word with getting climate fixed, that we’re losing sight of the more important of the goals which is sustain and grow productivity. We have to double the current output of food from today to 2050. The last time I checked, you got to use a lot of different tools to get that,” says McKinney.
That’s why he and others are proposing that the ag industry establish their own voluntary, incentive-based climate standards and certifications as guidelines to follow. McKinney says the ag industry needs to act before environmental groups and those outside the ag industry are able to create and legislate their own climate policies that may hurt Indiana farmers.
“So, it is an exciting time, but so too are a lot of the forces that counter that. In times of crisis, whoever you are, you never lose the opportunity to take advantage of a crisis. There are some nefarious activities going out there we got to watch out. That’s part of my job and that’s what I’m doing for farmers in Indiana,” said McKinney.
Nearly two years ago, NASDA and other ag organizations established the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance to define and promote climate policies that not only help the environment – but also, benefit American farmers.
Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s radio news report on NASDA’s CEO Ted McKinney and his efforts to direct climate-related ag policies in Washington, D.C.
Click BELOW to hear MORE of C.J. Miller’s interview with Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, as he talks about directing climate-related ag policies on Capitol Hill.