WASHINGTON – The Biden administration will not use eminent domain to take farm or ranch property out of production to meet its climate goal of conserving 30 percent of U.S. land and water by 2030, nor will it try to restrict people’s meat consumption, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday.
Vilsack told a conference of the North American Agricultural Journalists that unnamed groups were raising the specter of eminent domain and using the media as part of climate pushback directed at the administration.
The concerns about land seizures worked their way into the April 22 confirmation hearing for Jewel H. Bronaugh, the nominee for deputy secretary of Agriculture, with questions from Sens. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and John Thune, R-S.D., about President Joe Biden’s proposal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. land by 2030, a project known as 30 by 30.
The proposal, with few details, was part of a Jan. 27 executive order that Biden signed. The order calls for the Agriculture Department and several agencies to reach out to the public and to report on ideas to achieve the goal.
Vilsack seemed to chuckle when asked Monday about the land issue and rumors of a crackdown on beef consumption.
“Folks who represent commodity groups and farmers are using the media in a way to message the administration on issues. This discussion surrounding 30 by 30 is really, really off base,” Vilsack said.
Fifteen Republican governors sent a letter to Biden on April 21 saying they were concerned about any potential expansion of federal land ownership or restrictions on state-owned land.
Vilsack said the administration is looking for ways to encourage, not force, farmers and ranchers to join the effort to address climate change.
“There is no intent to take land away from farmers. The goal here is to create new opportunities for farmers to benefit by embracing climate-smart agricultural practices,” Vilsack said. “There are a number of things we can do and will do, but none of it involves taking anybody’s land away from them or using eminent domain. It’s not going to happen.”