Congress allocated nearly $20 billion for USDA land stewardship programs in the climate, healthcare and tax bill that was enacted in August — historic investments, said Jonathan Coppess, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, on Thursday. The funding could lead to a rare focus on climate change and the agriculture sector, though he said that was not assured.
Farmers received billions of dollars from two of the largest federal agricultural conservation programs between 2017 and 2020, but only a small proportion of the money funded practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group.
In the 1980s, "Hiware Bazar, a village tucked deep inside the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Back then, the hamlet was a crime-ridden backwater, desperately poor and largely abandoned by government agencies," writes Puja Changoiwala in FERN's latest story, published with Grist.
Anne Schwagerl would love to purchase an interseeder, a machine that plants cover crop seeds directly into a field where another crop like soybeans is already growing. But she and her husband, who grow a variety of grains on 400 acres in western Minnesota, can't afford the $80,000 price tag. So she was happy when the state legislature recently approved a cost-share program to help farmers to purchase such equipment.
With world hunger rates rising, President Biden announced Wednesday at the United Nations an additional $2.9 billion in U.S. humanitarian assistance, including funds to feed schoolchildren and expand food production. We’re “taking on the food crisis head-on,” said Biden in a speech that denounced Russia for invading Ukraine and called for action on global warming.
Climate mitigation does not deserve priority over other soil and water conservation goals notwithstanding the $20 billion earmarked for it, said two senior Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. "I don't feel bound by the amount of funding or the specific program allocation passed in the partisan (climate, health and tax) bill," said Pennsylvania Rep Glenn Thompson, the Republican leader on the committee.
Showered by "amazing" proposals, the Biden administration said it will put $3.5 billion — three times more than originally planned — into pilot projects to mitigate global warming and create markets for climate-smart commodities. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the demonstration projects would put the United States in the lead internationally in climate-smart agriculture.
As he prepares for a possible presidential run, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has burnished some of his progressive credentials with a flurry of new legislation. On Monday, he rattled the fast food industry by signing a bill that could increase fast food workers' minimum wage to as much as $22 an hour, and he has made national news for his aggressive new policies to address the climate crisis.
On Tuesday, the Interior Department’s new water restrictions for the Colorado River offered a warning: If stakeholders fail to make further cuts in usage, one of the nation’s most vital watersheds could face, according to assistant secretary Tanya Trujillo, “catastrophic collapse.” Robert Glennon, one of the country’s leading experts in water policy and law, discusses what it means and what comes next. (No paywall)
Manure digesters are among the best-known ways for feedlots and dairy farms to capture greenhouse gas emissions and, in some cases, sell biomethane as a fuel. The climate, healthcare, and tax law signed this week by President Biden offers a new incentive to the biogas industry at the same time that the environmental credentials of on-farm digesters are being questioned.
Farmers will be able to adopt climate-smart practices at a faster pace, thanks to funding in the climate, healthcare and tax bill passed by Congress, said House Agriculture chairman David Scott. President Biden planned to sign the bill into law this week.
U.S. cotton growers will harvest a drought-shortened crop of 12.57 million bales, their smallest since 2009, according to the USDA's monthly Crop Production report. Texas, the No. 1 producer, would account for nearly all of the nearly 5-million-bale decline in production from last year.
Faced with the worst drought in 1,200 years and a dwindling water supply, Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined a new, long-term water strategy for California at a press conference on Thursday. His plan, he said, would prepare the state for a hotter, drier future.
The climate, tax and healthcare bill passed by Democratic senators on Sunday included $20 billion to ramp up USDA's voluntary land stewardship programs, a potential windfall for climate mitigation ahead of the 2023 farm bill. "We are equipping farmers, foresters and rural communities with the necessary tool to be part of the solution," said Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow.
Farm-state lawmakers would have the funds to write a climate-focused farm bill if Congress enacts a broad-ranging package that President Biden on Thursday called “the most significant legislation in history to tackle the climate crisis.” The package includes $20 billion for voluntary conservation practices on the farm to sequester greenhouse gases in soils, plants, and trees.
A report from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication released Thursday shows that Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who think it’s not happening by a ratio of six to one (72 percent vs. 12 percent). Nearly the same percentage (70 percent) think climate change is tied to environmental problems such as extreme heat and wildfire.
With views of the Rocky Mountains, the occasional squadron of American white pelicans passing through, and a boardwalk for strolling, northern Colorado’s Windsor Lake is a popular destination for paddle boarding, kayaking, and swimming. But the lake is off-limits this week after city officials sampled the water and found concerning levels of blue-green algae, which can contain toxins harmful to humans, pets, and wildlife. (No paywall)
A group of farmers and climate change activists attended the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) meeting in Des Moines last week and demanded the board vote against using eminent domain to acquire land for several proposed carbon pipeline projects.
The climate in California's Ojai Valley has been ideal for citrus, but that climate is changing—getting windier, drier, and hotter. A recent study showed that Ventura County’s temperature has warmed more in the last 125 years than any other county in the lower 48 states, as Lisa Morehouse reports in FERN's latest story, produced in partnership with KQED's California Repot. The corresponding rise of wildfires and drought has caused some Ojai growers to fallow orchards; farmers estimate at least 15 percent fewer acres in production now than a decade ago. County officials are concerned enough that they’re partnering with the local Farm Bureau and the Nature Conservancy to evaluate threatened farmland in Ojai and across the county.