Groups across the United States will receive a total of $1.1 billion to plant and maintain trees in cities and towns to combat extreme heat and mitigate climate change, announced the Biden administration on Thursday. “We’ve never had the opportunity to provide resources at this level,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The USDA could use its biggest land stewardship programs — the Conservation Reserve, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and the Conservation Stewardship Program — to combat climate change, wrote University of Maryland professor Erik Lichtenberg in a think tank report. But to make the programs as effective as possible, he said, Congress would have to reorient them, a risky move that could cut into their support.
Farm-state senators will try to move $37 billion into the farm bill that originally was earmarked for a handful of USDA activities, including climate mitigation, in the climate, health and tax law last summer, said a Senate Agriculture Committee senior staffer on Monday.
Three of every 10 acres of U.S. corn and winter wheat are under increased threat as climate change boosts temperatures and makes rainfall more erratic in the Midwest and Plains, said new report on Tuesday. Commissioned by the American Farmland Trust, the report said the 2023 farm bill should embrace climate mitigation and provide the money to help farmers adapt to global warming.
After describing the farm economy in apocalyptic terms, the House Agriculture Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to seek “additional resources” of an unspecified amount “to enact a strong farm bill in 2023.” The committee also said it would consider whether to divert all or part of the $20 billion awarded to the USDA for climate mitigation to other needy programs.
The production, distribution and consumption of food could add nearly 1 degree C to global warming by 2100, said a study in the journal Nature Climate Change, written by four climate scientists at the Environmental Defense Fund. “This additional warming alone is enough to surpass the 1.5 degree …
When Congress writes the new farm bill, it should include incentives for farmers to adopt cover crops and purchase so-called precision agriculture equipment that more efficiently uses fertilizers and pesticides, said the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance on Wednesday.
Last month, the French food company Danone — owner of milk and yogurt brands like Activia and Horizon Organics — pledged to cut absolute methane emissions from its milk supply chains by 30 percent by 2030, making it the first major food company with a methane-specific emissions target. But reducing those methane emissions is far from simple. A “methane ambition” document released by Danone outlines a few options, although somewhat vaguely and without acknowledging some of the controversies surrounding them. No paywall
A House task force on climate and agriculture, led by Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Kim Schrier of Washington State, released a report Thursday recommending policies for the 2023 farm bill to make it as climate-friendly as possible.
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.
Since the 1980s, as rising seas and storm surges started pushing saltwater through the banks of tidal rivers and ruining their crops, rice farmers in Bangladesh, backed by the government, began shifting to shrimp farming. As Stephen Robert Miller writes in FERN’s latest story, published with The Guardian, “It was a way to adapt, and for a while it worked. Commercial shrimp, known as ‘white gold,’ has become one of the country’s most valuable export commodities.” (No paywall)
Only 5 percent of U.S. cropland is planted to cover crops amid debate over their financial benefits to farmers. Congress may need to offer a "sizable" subsidy to growers if it wants large-scale adoption of the farming practice, said two university economists.
A $10 million project will sample, measure, and monitor the amount of soil carbon in environmentally fragile cropland idled as part of the Conservation Reserve, said the USDA on Tuesday. Earlier this year, the agency said it would harness the reserve to mitigate climate change by paying landowners to implement climate-smart practices.
At the same time farm-state lawmakers are trying to add $2 billion to $3 billion a year to USDA conservation programs, a coalition of farmers and ag groups says the price tag for climate mitigation on the farm should be much higher —$100 per acre or $40 billion a year when fully implemented. No paywall
The chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee called on Thursday for a $50 billion increase in funding for the USDA's stewardship programs to combat climate change on farms and ranches. And a USDA report said forests could absorb an even larger share of U.S. carbon emissions than the current 14 percent through a combination of tree planting and prudent management.
Robert Bonnie, named USDA climate adviser on the same day President Biden took office, will soon be in charge of all farm support programs, from land stewardship to farm subsidies and crop insurance, if confirmed by the Senate. Biden nominated Bonnie for undersecretary for farm production and conservation, arguably the highest-profile sub-cabinet post at USDA, on Friday.
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.
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.
Farmers and ranchers will have a voice in writing the Biden administration’s plan for alleviating climate change, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday — “a system that is designed by farmers for farmers.” A spokesman said the USDA will reach out to the agricultural sector “in the …