FIRST ON FOX: A group of 27 House Republicans is calling on President Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to disavow Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry's recent comments targeting food emissions.
The Republicans — led by Rep. Mark Alford, R-Mo., and joined by Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Transportation Committee Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo. — are sending a letter to Biden and Vilsack Monday, highlighting comments Kerry recently made. Kerry lamented earlier this month that the agriculture industry has a large carbon footprint and called for "innovation."
"We strongly urge you to denounce Kerry’s remarks. These comments are a blatant slap in the face to the hardworking individuals that spend their lives sustainably producing our world’s food, fuel, and fiber," the GOP lawmakers state in the letter. "Although the world agriculture industry accounts for 22 percent of global GHG emissions, Kerry’s alarmist narrative does not tell the full story of American agriculture."
"American farmers and ranchers are committed to being stewards of the land," they add. "We are appalled by the comments made by [Kerry] and ask that your administration recognize the responsible efforts agriculture producers make every day to feed, clothe and fuel the world. Farmers and ranchers are the lifeblood to our food security, and a nation that cannot feed itself would not be a nation at all."
On May 10, during the AIM for Climate Summit hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Kerry stated that "net-zero" energy goals were impossible without addressing greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector. He said the industry creates 33% of the world's total carbon emissions and argued that reducing those emissions must be "front and center" in the quest to defeat global warming.
The special presidential envoy for climate added that food emissions alone are projected to cause an additional half degree of warming by 2050, noting that the global population is increasing and recently surpassed eight billion people.
"This sector needs innovation now more than ever," Kerry stated. "We're facing record malnutrition at a time when agriculture, more than any other sector, is suffering from the impacts of the climate crisis. And I refuse to call it climate change anymore. It's not change. It's a crisis."
"We need economic, social and policy innovation in order to scale adaptation of these technical solutions and get them into the hands of folks in the fields of small farmers on a worldwide basis," he continued. "This is the promise of AIM for Climate Summit."
Overall, the global food system — which includes land-use change, actual agricultural production, packaging and waste management — generates about 18 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of 34% of total worldwide emissions, according to a March 2021 study published in the Nature Food journal.
In the U.S., though, agriculture generates about 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions, federal data showed.
The letter Monday noted that America's agriculture sector accounts for just 1.4% of global emissions and that domestic industry has implemented a wide range of solutions to achieve climate benefits, making it the nation's lowest-emitting economic sector. The Republicans also referred to federal data showing U.S. land management practices alone removed 764 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in 2018.
"Since assuming his post as ‘climate czar’, John Kerry has done nothing but fly his private jets around the world and preach his radical gospel for the climate cult," Alford told Fox News Digital in a statement. "His latest remarks about America’s agriculture industry paints a widely inaccurate picture."
"Due to industry led changes, our hardworking farmers and ranchers have made massive strides in reducing global emissions and producing more with less. They should be applauded, not shamed," the Missouri Republican added. "Mr. Kerry remarks at the AIM Climate Summit are deeply offensive and I urge everyone in this Administration to condemn them. Anything short is unacceptable."
President Biden appointed Kerry to be the special presidential envoy for climate, a position that hadn't previously existed and which didn't require Senate approval, shortly after taking office in early 2021. Kerry's office is housed at the State Department and has an estimated $13.9 million annual budget with approval for 45 personnel.
Kerry's position gives him a spot on the president's cabinet and National Security Council. Since taking on the role, he has traveled worldwide, attending high-profile climate summits and diplomatic engagements in an effort to push a global transition from fossil fuels to green energy alternatives.
"I’m appalled by the comments that President Biden’s Climate Czar recently made attacking farmers in our country over greenhouse gas emissions," Rep. Monica De La Cruz, R-Texas, a co-signer on the letter, said in a statement. "Our farmers are some of the hardest working people in our country and spend their lives sustainably producing food for our nation. It is my hope that President Biden condemns Kerry’s remarks."
"Farmers and ranchers have been operating on same plots of land for generations, continuously making innovations that have led to higher yields of higher quality food on increasingly less inputs," Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., another co-signer, added. "If Climate Czar Kerry ever spent a day with the real stewards of the land instead of flying around the world on his private jet, he’d have known that already."
Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., who also signed the letter Monday, said the Biden administration's "assault on farmers" was unacceptable and vowed to push for defunding Kerry's office.
"John Kerry's tenure as 'climate czar' has been marked by extravagant private jet travels to lecture farmers about the environment," Miller told Fox News Digital. "As a fellow farmer, I am proud to join my colleagues in the House in demanding that the Biden Administration denounce John Kerry's offensive comments about the agriculture industry."
"I will relentlessly push to defund Kerry's office, allocating $0 for the Biden-Kerry war on farmers, and ensure that our hardworking livelihoods are protected from their radical climate agenda. It is time for John Kerry to take his private jet back to Martha's Vineyard for good."