When freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released her Green New Deal plan, social media lit up with talk of her plan’s mentions of “farting cows.” That drew the attention of agriculture’s preeminent expert on air quality, Dr. Frank Mitloehner of the University of California at Davis, who tweeted back at the congresswoman.
“I don’t know whether my tweet was the reason, but a few hours after I tweeted her, all mentioning of cow flatulence were taken off the web pages and of all social media outlets and was never to be heard again,” Mitloehner told Chip Flory on the AgriTalk Radio Show Monday.
That wasn’t the end of the conversation.
“Last week her office, or someone affiliated with her office, contacted me, and we had at least an hour discussion about which role agriculture can play in order to reduce climate impacts,” Mitloehner explained. “And I was very glad to inform of what I know, and they were very receptive to it.”
Mitloehner warned those in agriculture to not take the Green New Deal lightly, especially since Ocasio-Cortez is reaching out to experts in agriculture.
“I take all of that very seriously. Many of my colleagues don’t seem to take it very seriously, but I take it very seriously,” he said. “I hear all these people talk about sustainability to farmers, okay? Now you tell me, who in the world is a greater expert in sustainability than a farmer? Who knows more about the interplay of soils and plants and animals and climate and all of that than a farmer? And who has a greater interest in the sustainability of their lands than farmers?”
Consequently, Mitloehner argues farmers should be leading the discussion on sustainability.
“To put them into this defensive position and for farmers to accept that role of taking on a defensive position is unacceptable to me,” he said. “I think farmers need to be on the front seat, on the driver’s seat on that sustainability train and not view that as a cuss word. It’s not. It is what you do every day, and if you don’t do it, you go bankrupt. It’s that simple.”
Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez did not immediately respond to a request for comment on agriculture’s role in the Green New Deal.
Listen to Dr. Mitloehner’s full conversation on the AgriTalk Radio Show with Chip Flory in the player below.