Climate programs will be voluntary, incentive-based, says USDA nominee

The USDA's climate mitigation initiatives will be built on a simple rule: "If they don't work for producers and landowners, they're not going to work for the climate," said Robert Bonnie, the Biden nominee to run the USDA's crop subsidy and land stewardship programs, on Thursday. "Making sure we get that right is going to be a high priority."

Carbon credit market needs better standards – report

Several programs exist to pay farmers for storing soil carbon, but a lack of standards has so far held back the burgeoning farm carbon credit sector, says a new report from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The Department of Agriculture should play a role in collecting data and building …

True cost of food? $2.1 trillion more than the grocery bill.

The U.S. food system costs at least $3.2 trillion a year when the impact on human health, livelihoods and the environment is added to the $1.1 trillion paid each year for food, said a report by the Rockefeller Foundation. Most of the additional $2.1 trillion comes from the cost of obesity and …

Biden to end large-scale old-growth timber sales in Tongass

The Biden administration will end large-scale sales of old-growth timber in the Tongass National Forest on the Alaska panhandle, the world's largest intact temperate rainforest, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday.

Lawmakers look to overrule appellate decision on year-round E15

In a step coinciding with an ethanol conference in Iowa, midwestern lawmakers filed bills in the House and Senate to allow year-round sales of gasoline that is a 15 percent, or higher, blend of corn ethanol. The bills would override a U.S. appeals court ruling on July 2 against summertime sales of E15.

Do conservation subsidies really battle climate change?

The Conservation Reserve Program, which will pay farmers more than $1.8 billion this year to take land out of crop cultivation, has become a linchpin of the Biden administration's climate mitigation program for agriculture. But critics question just how effective the program is in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions generated by agriculture, says FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with The American Prospect.  (No paywall)

Oregon adopts heat safety rule to protect farm labor and other workers

In the wake of a heat wave blamed for the death of a farmworker, Oregon adopted an emergency rule on Thursday that guarantees workers rest breaks in the shade and plenty of cool water to drink during hot weather. Farmworker advocates called for the passage of federal protections against heat stress on the job.

Opinion: The opportunity to unleash farmers to fight climate change

Producing environmental benefits will become an important enterprise for American farmers, giving them the ability to monetize their response to climate change and other environmental challenges. But as these new enterprises get going, farmers, agribusiness professionals, researchers, policymakers, and rural leaders need to ask how these solutions can be created by farmers — not just be something that happens to farmers.  (No paywall)

Solar leases more popular than carbon contracts among farmers

The relative handful of farmers who have signed carbon sequestration contracts is half the size of the group that has leased land for solar electricity production, said Purdue University on Tuesday. Solar leases, which may exceed $1,000 an acre annually, are more lucrative than the rates offered for carbon capture.