United States Secretary of Agriculture urges countries in the Americas to join forces to build a climate-resilient agriculture sector that guarantees food security
San Jose, 23 September 2022 (IICA) - Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture, appealed to his peers in the Americas to work together, without delay, to build a resilient agriculture sector that can assist in mitigating climate change, while also guaranteeing the planet’s food security in the future.
Vilsack participated in the meeting of ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, along with representatives from international funding agencies, which was convened to discuss a joint position for the sector to adopt at the Conference of the Parties to the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 27), within the context of the food, health and climate crisis. COP 27 will take place in Egypt in November.
The meeting is being held at the headquarters of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in San Jose, Costa Rica. The ministers of the hemisphere asked the specialized agency for agriculture in the Americas to coordinate the process to build a consensus within the region’s agriculture sector, with respect to highlighting the benefits of greater climate action for food and nutritional security, sustainability, and water conservation and management.
Vilsack, who participated virtually, indicated that, “Cooperation efforts are key to advancing science and innovation, which will enable us to share effective tools and enhance the leadership of the agriculture sector in the global climate change debate. We must forge partnerships and coalitions to ensure that we work together to achieve these objectives”.
The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture stressed the importance of the meeting, remarking that, “As long as rural communities continue to grapple with the simultaneous challenges of climate change, food insecurity, the global conflict and inflation, it is imperative that we engage in dialogue in search of solutions. With a view to COP 27, it is more critical than ever that the ministers of Agriculture of the Americas deliver a strong, united and unifying message”.
Commitment of IICA Member States
“We must convey the message that all of IICA’s member countries are committed to fight against climate change in the Western Hemisphere and the world, recognizing both the urgency of the challenge, as well as the benefits to be gained if we accelerate our response. Urgency should be converted into transformative policies”, said Vilsack.
The Secretary suggested that large-scale changes in the production and industrialization of food are necessary, which will only be possible if farmers and other stakeholders understand the benefits of adopting practices that are mindful of the environmental crisis and the need to sustainably increase agricultural production to feed a growing world population.
“We need more investment in research and development to hone the capacity of farmers and youth to find new solutions to the challenges that agriculture faces today and will face tomorrow. We must stimulate investment with public policies and partnerships with the private sector”.
Vilsack warned that farmers alone cannot shoulder the costs for adaptation to natural disasters produced by climate change.
As head of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), he warned that, “The benefits of agricultural mitigation practices cannot be realized without incentives and effective public policies. The American region is home to many of the world’s most valuable and diverse natural resources. It has the capacity to lead by example on the road to climate smart agriculture”.
“We also know that, as the proud custodians of our land and water, farmers need an income to survive. This offers us the opportunity to focus on soil health, agrosilvopastoral systems and regenerative practices, based on advances in science. That will allow us to build a circular economy that invests in the rural communities that supply the food, fuel and fiber for our countries and the world”, he maintained.
Finally, he reflected that, “We are stronger together than apart, working towards a common objective. Together, there is nothing that we cannot achieve”.
Institutional Communication Division.