U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thinks Farmers Can Help Solve Global Warming

Author: David Biello

Many large-scale farmers in the U.S. don’t care to hear much about climate change. Perhaps that is because agriculture—including livestock-rearing and forestry—is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas pollution. Nevertheless, American farmers, ranchers and foresters have begun to adopt practices that could cut pollution, or so says a progress report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the “Building Blocks for Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry.”

Scientific American spoke with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who has held that job longer than most of his predecessors after stints as governor of Iowa and a presidential hopeful.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

Can American agriculture solve climate change while also surviving it?
Agriculture can contribute to the solution. I say that because there are other industries and other sectors that also have to do their part. But agriculture needs to be part of the solution.