National conservation goal: 30 percent of U.S. land and water

The Biden administration announced a 10-year, voluntary and locally led drive to conserve 30 percent of U.S. land and coastal waters by 2030, an idea President Biden broached in January. "This is the first national conservation goal we have ever set as a country," Gina McCarthy, the White House climate adviser, said Thursday during a rollout that featured three cabinet secretaries.

Before a USDA carbon bank, try some pilot projects, says climate alliance

A few weeks ago, USDA climate adviser Robert Bonnie used a variant of “walk before you run” to describe the Biden administration goal of bipartisan support for climate mitigation in agriculture. On Monday, a sector-spanning coalition said the USDA “needs to crawl before it can …

‘Now is the time’ to boost USDA funding, say farm groups

Lawmakers should increase funding for the USDA's land stewardship programs as part of the administration's infrastructure bill because funding will probably be tight when Congress writes the 2023 farm bill, dozens of farm, conservation, and environmental groups said in a letter.

Republican senators question USDA funds for climate mitigation

President Biden lacks authority to tap a $30 billion USDA fund to pay for climate mitigation, said two senior Republican senators on Tuesday, potentially limiting the administration's role in combating global warming on the farm. Suggestions for a "carbon bank" at USDA to help farmers and foresters adopt climate-smart practices hinge on access to the fund held by an agency known as "USDA's bank."

Biden seeks 50 percent cut in U.S. emissions, sees farming as carbon frontier

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."

Land set-aside is part of climate progress, not greenwashing, says Vilsack

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)

USDA harnesses Conservation Reserve for climate mitigation

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.

White House creates drought relief working group

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were named Wednesday to be co-chairs of a Biden administration working group charged with addressing worsening drought conditions in the western half of the nation.

Earth Day vote is set for ‘Growing Climate Solutions’ bill

The Senate Agriculture Committee will vote on Thursday, Earth Day, on a retooled bill that would make it easier for farmers and foresters to earn money for locking carbon into the soil and trees, said chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. A sponsor of the legislation, Stabenow said language was strengthened to assure farmers, rather than investors or middlemen, receive the revenue for climate mitigation.

House GOP package allows donors to name climate projects

Five farm-state Republicans unveiled a package of climate bills that in one instance would allow private-sector donors to USDA conservation accounts to specify where the money would be spent and put "a name or a brand" on a project. Another of the bills would allow landscape-scale forest management projects of up to 75,000 acres — bigger than the District of Columbia — to reduce wildfire risk through forest thinning, controlled burns, salvaging dead or endangered trees, and creation of "fuel breaks" up to one-half mile wide.