[MCN] Trump's USDA could be a disaster for farms, food, and forests

Lance Olsen lance at wildrockies.org
Thu Feb 9 09:43:19 EST 2017

Trump's USDA could be a disaster for farms and forests
By Bobby Magill on Feb 7, 2017 Cross-posted from Climate Central


U.S. food security, forest health, and the ability of farmers to 
respond to climate change are all at risk if President's Trump's pick 
to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture brings climate change 
skepticism to the agency, agricultural researchers and environmental 
law experts say.

If the USDA dismisses the threat of climate change, "then there is 
reason for grave concern," said Michael P. Hoffman, executive 
director of the Cornell University Institute for Climate Smart 
Solutions, which focuses on sustainable agriculture.

"The U.S. Forest Service is heading in a direction both cognizant of 
problems posed by climate change in terms of wildfire and bark beetle 
infestation, and adaptation, resilience, and carbon sinks," said Jack 
Tuholske, director of the Vermont Law School water and justice 
program. "The tone of the administration one week on the ground, they 
want to go back to the old days when public lands were viewed as 
commodity producers for private gain."

Tuholske is referring to statements made by some of Trump's other 
cabinet nominees during their confirmation hearings in January. 
Interior Secretary nominee Ryan Zinke, whose Interior Department is 
in charge of more federal land than any other, spoke of forests and 
fossil fuels the agency manages as "assets" to be harvested or 

For decades, the U.S. Forest Service managed national forests mainly 
for commodity production in the form of timber harvesting, an 
approach that began to change in the Obama administration, which saw 
forests as important for their ecological value, Tuholske said.

"The U.S. Forest Service is like a big ship slowly turning," he said. 
"It took them 30 years to reach this new vision of the forest as 
something more than logs on a stump."

It's unclear how far Perdue's USDA could go to roll back forest 
protections because many of them are mandated by law and regulatory 
changes require a time-consuming process to implement.

The law that governs how the USDA manages national forests mandates 
that forests be managed sustainably - not just for timber harvesting, 
Hein said.

"This requires attention to both the impact of climate change on our 
national forests and the preservation of these forests as carbon 
sinks," she said.

"I have simply tended to be negative about booms," investments guru 
Marc Faber told Asiaweek magazine in a February 2001 interview, 
because booms "easily turn into bubbles that become bigger and go 
In a July, 2001 editorial, The Economist said that "It is no 
coincidence that the deepest and most protracted recessions in recent 
decades have taken hold in countries that experienced booms ..."
That same month, Barron's columnist Gene Epstein said easy money 
"helps bring boom and bust in the first place" by throwing money at 
"unsustainable projects."

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