The agriculture lobby is dragging its feet on climate—again

Biden administration advisors have been pushing hard for the creation of a federal carbon bank—which would pay farmers to sequester carbon into soil—as part of a broader plan to tackle the climate crisis. But the proposal has a surprising holdout: the agricultural industry’s biggest lobby, the Farm Bureau. At face value, this might be surprising—why would an industry group oppose a plan that would pay the industry to help offset emissions? One possibility is that under a carbon bank setup, farmers might be incentivized to plant for carbon sequestration instead of commodity crops, which could dent profits for Farm Bureau members who sell seed, pesticides, and fertilizer. The organization may also view a publicly run carbon bank as a threat to private carbon-offset companies, which have drawn suspicion as a mechanism that polluters can use to make net-zero claims without having to reduce emissions. Read more in Charlie Mitchell’s analysis of the Farm Bureau’s climate reluctance for The New Republic.