USDA Urged to Make Climate Change Research Public

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, raised strong concerns that the reported suppression of significant climate change research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is harmful to agriculture and urged the Department to publicize past and future research.

A Politico article published on June 24, 2019 reported a number of instances where USDA leadership downplayed the public release of several studies containing significant findings related to climate change’s effects on agriculture. In a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Stabenow expressed strong concerns that stifling research on climate change would have a negative effect on farmers and the agricultural economy.

“USDA research, whether focused on climate change or any other topic, benefits farmers, ranchers, and families in rural America,” wrote Stabenow. “It would be deeply irresponsible for the Department to suppress research that helps USDA customers and the agricultural economy as a whole.”

“The claims in the Politico article are highly concerning given the significant effects that climate change is having on our farmers and agricultural economy,” wrote Stabenow. “As you know, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry recently conducted a bipartisan hearing entitled, ‘Climate Change and the Agriculture Sector,’ where we heard about the profound impacts that farmers and ranchers can expect from unchecked climate change. It would be irresponsible and inexcusable to withhold important research information from America’s agricultural producers in light of this challenge.”

Stabenow requested a thorough explanation of the decision not to publicize the research project described in the article. She also urged the USDA to publicize all agency research relating to climate change that has been completed since January 2017, and asked the Department to publicize any future studies involving climate change research in accordance with standard practice prior to 2017.

A PDF of the letter is available here.