Analysis: how the Biden Administration's new approach will affect food and agriculture

After his inauguration on 20 January, President Joe Biden began implementing his agenda, issuing more than three dozen executive orders, proclamations and memoranda on a wide range of issues.

29 January 2021, at 8:10am

Many of these actions have implications for agriculture. Here’s a brief summary of what they mean:

Climate Change

On his first day in office, President Biden announced that the United States will re-join the Paris Climate Agreement. The voluntary agreement sets benchmarks for each participant around reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable energy, and increasing energy efficiency with the ultimate goal of keeping “a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

A week later, Biden issued two executive orders and a memorandum outlining actions his administration will take to cut greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources, invest in renewable energy, advance environmental justice, and protect climate research. Among other things, the plan prioritises increasing carbon sequestration in the agriculture sector and directs the Secretary of Agriculture to solicit input from farmers and other stakeholders “on how to use federal programs to encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.”


One of Biden’s first acts as president was announcing a comprehensive plan for immigration reform. In addition to addressing the causes of migration and modernizing border control, the proposal would strengthen protections for immigrant workers and create a path to citizenship for undocumented residents, fast-tracking “Dreamers,” temporary protect status (TPS) holders, and farm workers.

Food Security

To respond to the financial pressures Americans are facing as a result of the pandemic, President Biden issued an order offering relief, including nutrition assistance. The plan would extend a 15 percent boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, increase food assistance for families missing meals due to school closures, invest $3 billion to help women and children access food, and allow states to increase SNAP emergency allotments for the lowest income Americans. On top of that, it instructs the USDA to reassess its metrics for determining SNAP benefit levels.