Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson testifies at House Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture

On February 3, 2022, Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson was invited to give testimony to the House Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture regarding environmental gain and economic viability related to sustainability in the livestock sector. This virtual hearing was hosted by Representative Jim Costa (D-CA) and featured testimonies from representatives in the field of livestock sustainability. The AgNext team was very excited to have the opportunity to testify on this critical topic.

Representative Glenn Thompson from Pennsylvania introduced his prospective ‘Sustains Act,’ which would “allow the USDA to accept and match donated private funds to stretch the federal dollar.” Rep. Thompson then inquired as to whether the agricultural experts saw value in a private-public partnership with large and small businesses. This kind of partnership would allow those organizations to help the government fund additional conservation programs while also earning their climate champion credentials.

Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson added her professional insight, responding, “I love the notion of this private-public partnership idea and I truly believe that that’s where our solutions are going to come [from] and those tangible outcomes are going to be made available.” Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson elaborated on this point by describing how instituting a method to measure the outcome of these efforts would be very beneficial. She described how measurement methods such as water holding capacity, soil diversity, and tons of emissions reduced or sequestered per company would be useful in gauging the success of this project. This type of public-private collaboration would help to advance the cattle industry toward a baseline to ensure they are working from a benchmark to accurately track reductions.

As the hearing continued, Democratic Representative Cynthia Axne from Iowa expressed a desire on behalf of Congress to invest more resources related to research and technology in conservation programs. In a question directed specifically towards Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson, Rep. Axne inquired, “In your view, what’s the most pressing research need, and how would that research help our producers?”

Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson replied to the question, saying, “really, establishing appropriate baselines for greenhouse gas emissions in the way that cattle are raised today, in my opinion, is what is most needed right now. We’ve modeled this for a very long time by using emissions data, but the actual absolute emissions that we use to create those emission factors are based on data from past equipment. I’m worried we’re not getting accurate baseline emissions from the types of cattle that we have today.” She went on to explain how the field of agricultural research is catching up quickly in terms of technology. 

Strides have been made in sustainability for the last several decades and the new technology available will help support the industry continues to move toward setting and tracking sustainability goals. 

Written by Sydney Gradisar-Jansen, Media Intern