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Chair Jim Costa Opening Statement at Hearing on Sustainability in the Livestock Sector: Environmental Gain and Economic Viability

WASHINGTON - House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chair Jim Costa delivered the following statement at today's hearing titled “Sustainability in the Livestock Sector: Environmental Gain and Economic Viability”

[As prepared for delivery]

Good Morning. Thank you to our witnesses, Ranking Member Johnson, and the members of the subcommittee for convening today to discuss climate change, sustainability, and the livestock sector. Climate change is a global problem, and we cannot waver in our commitment to addressing it. The Biden Administration has rejoined the Paris Agreement and the opportunity is before us to actually deliver on our commitments to this important climate agreement. This means reducing emissions in a meaningful way, working with industry to make an impact, and ensuring measurable outcomes.

Agriculture has an important role to play in addressing climate change, and it is critical that we acknowledge that, while agriculture delivers tremendous value to society, it does so at a cost to the climate. But like all farmers, I am an optimist, and I believe that the flip side of the value proposition that I just described is that agriculture is positioned to make a meaningful contribution toward reducing and offsetting emissions.

Today we will hear from producers, and others working to advance sustainability initiatives, so that we can better understand how farmers are coming together to combat climate change, what work lies ahead, and the barriers and incentives that factor into these efforts.

In addition, it is vital that we account for the impact that global warming will have on agriculture as it impacts different regions of our nation in different ways. We have already seen staggering drought this year with Lake Mead, a critical water resource in the West, reaching its lowest level since being filled, and I am concerned that conditions will only deteriorate further if we don’t take steps to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions now.

Deteriorating conditions will not only affect the grazing land that our livestock producers need, they will also impact crops that are used to supply feed for our livestock, and will lead to water shortages that constrict herd sizes. These conditions will put further strain on food production.

This panel contains an impressive caliber of knowledge on what is being done to build a more sustainable livestock system, and what steps we still need to bridge to a more climate smart future. I look forward to a productive discussion on how we can work together to combat climate change and incentivize our livestock producers to scale up adoption of climate smart practices.

Before the introduction of our witnesses, I’d like to recognize the Ranking Member, Mr. Johnson of South Dakota, for any remarks he’d like to make.

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