By deploying clean technology, the United States can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by the end of this decade, said President Biden at an Earth Day summit intended to spark global action on climate change. "That's where we're headed as a nation, and that's what we can do if we take action to build an economy that's not only more prosperous but healthier, fairer, and cleaner for the planet."
The Biden administration is launching a portfolio of projects to reach its goal of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases on the farm, including a new focus on climate mitigation by the Conservation Reserve Program, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. During an Earth Day teleconference, he rejected the suggestion that carbon sequestration in the CRP was a form of greenwashing. (No paywall)
The USDA said it will offer higher rental rates and larger incentive payments to landowners who agree to idle environmentally fragile farmland and introduced a new payment for climate-smart practices to slow climate change. The expansions would boost spending on the Conservation Reserve by $300 million or more annually, said the White House on Wednesday.
The USDA is days away from announcing "greater opportunities" for landowners to take fragile farmland out of production in exchange for an annual payment, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. Since early February, the Biden administration has been mulling how to stop a 13-year decline in enrollment in the Conservation Reserve, the largest U.S. land set-aside program.
A new Senate bill would offer up to $150 million in loan guarantees to companies and nonprofit groups that help small and family-size foresters adopt climate-smart practices and sell carbon credits.
Most of the increased spending proposed by President Biden for USDA's so-called discretionary accounts would go to three things: Rural electricity, WIC and agricultural research. If approved by Congress, the money would accelerate the shift to cleaner electricity, help low-income families put food on the table and, as part of climate mitigation, find ways to verify carbon sequestration and greenhouse-gas reduction on the farm, said the White House.
U.S. agriculture faces a triple imperative — market, environment, and income — in responding to climate change, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday, his first day on the job. "We don't have a day to waste on this," he told reporters while indicating that the USDA will move at deliberate speed to identify and support successful mitigation practices.
The new era of climate mitigation on the farm would look like a beefed-up version of longstanding USDA conservation programs, augmented by a carbon bank that sets a floor price for carbon sequestration and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, said leaders of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance on Wednesday.
Farmers face significant expenses in adopting climate mitigation practices, and the Biden administration is pondering how to "de-risk those investments," possibly through a so-called carbon bank, said USDA climate adviser Robert Bonnie on Thursday. "Can we look at some new authorities to create some new financing mechanisms?"