Texas A&M AgriLife’s Nithya Rajan, Ph.D., was on the list when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, announced the appointment of 20 members to the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee, FRRCC.
The FRRCC provides independent policy advice, information and recommendations to the EPA Administrator Michael Regan on various environmental issues that are important to agriculture and rural communities.
Rajan, Texas A&M AgriLife Research crop physiologist/agroecologist in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, has been the lead investigator or co-investigator of numerous projects related to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
“We expect our researchers to be leaders in the implementation of science and technology and appreciate that Dr. Rajan will be representing us in this role,” said Cliff Lamb, Ph.D., AgriLife Research director, Bryan-College Station.
“They’re looking for outstanding scientists with expertise in a given area who can contribute to the overall breadth and depth of the committee, and Dr. Rajan excels in this area,” said David Baltensperger, head of the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Bryan-College Station.
Advising from the field
Rajan said the committee’s focus for the next two years will be advancing climate mitigation and adaptation strategies for U.S. agriculture. Within that focus, specific topics include improved quantification of low-carbon biofuels’ reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the benefits of nutrient management practices for climate and water quality.
“It is time to implement actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon,” she said.
Rajan said that over the past 10 years of research, one of her focus areas has been quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from large fields. She has been funded by Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture grants to conduct that research.
These emission measurements “are very critical for us to understand how farmers, through the adoption of practices, can mitigate climate change or contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Rajan said.
As actions to reduce emissions are developed and implemented, EPA can support the U.S. agriculture sector’s climate mitigation and adaptation goals with its rules and regulations. Baltensperger said the committee will be crucial for achieving those goals because it involves individuals who understand producers’ constraints and the repercussions that EPA may face from regulatory actions.
“Any opportunity we have to advise federal agencies is important for our faculty to participate in, to represent their knowledge of Texas and of things that are important to the producers and to Texas A&M,” he said.
“But it is a long-term kind of importance because this is where ideas get started that will come to fruition maybe five to seven years later,” Baltensperger said.
About the committee
Committee members include representatives from academia, agriculture and allied industries, nongovernmental organizations, and state, local and tribal governments.
“As EPA administrator, I am deeply committed to ensuring that agricultural and rural communities have a seat at the table as we work together to identify practical, science-based solutions that protect the environment and ensure a vibrant and productive food system,” Regan said. “The appointees announced today and our existing FRRCC members will provide invaluable insight and feedback on EPA’s programs as we partner with farmers and ranchers to address the impacts of the climate crisis.”
Earlier this year, Regan issued a new charge topic for the FRRCC to evaluate the agency’s policies and programs at the intersection of agriculture and climate change. The committee will consider how EPA’s tools and programs can best advance the agriculture sector’s climate mitigation and adaptation goals, ensuring EPA can effectively support farmers and ranchers in their efforts to reduce emissions and accelerate a more resilient food and agriculture system.
EPA selected new and returning members from a pool of highly qualified candidates to represent a variety of agricultural sectors, rural stakeholders and diverse geographies. The candidates’ backgrounds include extensive experience with EPA priority issues, including climate change. FRRCC members represent all 10 EPA regions and hail from 24 states.