As Montana Farmers Feel Effects of Climate Change, Tester Demands USDA Stop Ignoring It

Senator slams Agriculture Secretary for burying climate research, stresses need for education and adaptation

As temperatures rise and extreme weather becomes more frequent, U.S. Senator and 3rd generation farmer Jon Tester is calling on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to take action on behalf of American farmers and ranchers who are seeing firsthand the devastating impacts of climate change.

Following reports that USDA is intentionally burying climate research, Tester is demanding Secretary Perdue stop the routine deemphasizing of climate change within the agency and work to find ways to alleviate its impact on American farmers.

“USDA agricultural and climate research helps us farmers adapt to these new adverse growing conditions, helping us conserve resources and better manage the land,” wrote Tester. “That’s why it is particularly troubling to hear reports that USDA is suppressing climate change research in the name of politics… Agriculture is the backbone of Montana’s economy, so understanding the climate is an economic issue…if we want to protect rural America and the small town way of life of family farmers like me, we must make research and education around climate change a priority, not an afterthought.”

USDA spends as little as 0.3 percent of its annual budget to help farmers adapt to increasingly extreme weather caused by climate change, and the Trump Administration’s systemic suppression of climate science has hampered efforts even further. USDA has been caught routinely burying the studies of its own scientists that monitor the dangers posed to agriculture by climate change, even suppressing an interagency plan for studying and responding to the threat.

Agriculture contributes more to Montana’s economy than any other industry. Though farmers in the state faced extreme weather events in the 2019 growing season, and many were left with unsellable, low-quality product or were forced to leave their crop in the ground. These conditions—on top of an unnecessary trade war and stagnant crop prices—are decimating rural communities across the country and contributing to the death of American small towns.

As the only working farmer in the U.S. Senate, Tester has been a champion for farmers and ranchers across the country. Earlier this year, he introduced his Seeding Rural Resilience Act to help combat rising rates of farmer suicide, and The Trump Administration recently adopted his Restoring Rural Residencies Act into a rule change to bring more medical professionals into rural hospitals.

Tester also grilled the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month for disregarding scientific studies in its policymaking, ultimately making it easier for private companies to pollute America’s clean air and water.

Read Tester’s full letter to Secretary Perdue HERE.