conservation programs

Republicans would put half of climate funding into commodity subsidies, says Stabenow

Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow rejected on Thursday a Republican proposal to move several billion dollars of climate funds into the commodity title of the farm bill. “No, the answer to that is no,” Stabenow said at an expo on climate-smart agriculture practices.

Farm bill’s default reference price hikes could add billions to subsidy costs

Almost every farm in the country will benefit from a more generous trigger for crop subsidy payments in the years ahead if Congress does nothing more than extend the current farm law, said associate professor Jonathan Coppess of the University of Illinois on Thursday.

Climate mitigation gets $3 billion boost at USDA

More than $3 billion in USDA cost-sharing funds will be available to producers and foresters for climate mitigation projects in the fiscal year that begins this Sunday, the Agriculture Department said on Thursday.

Aided by grassland signup, Conservation Reserve reaches enrollment limit

For the first time in more than a decade, the Conservation Reserve, which pays landowners an annual rent in exchange for taking fragile cropland out of production, is full, thanks to surging interest in the Grassland CRP option, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. Grasslands will become the largest element in the reserve, with more than 9 million acres enrolled in the year ahead.

Report: Retooling USDA programs for climate mitigation is ‘politically fraught’

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.

Texas and California lead in recent EQIP spending

By one yardstick — dollars spent under the 2018 farm bill — the cost-sharing Environmental Quality Incentives Program is the largest working lands conservation program at the USDA, said two University of Illinois economists on Thursday. They created an interactive map of EQIP spending that showed Texas and California were the leading states for outlays.

Boost Conservation Reserve, hold steady on working lands assistance, say green groups

If Congress follows the farm bill recommendations of the Conservation Coalition, it would revive a $5-an-acre discount on crop insurance premiums for farmers who plant cover crops. The coalition, an alliance of farm, land stewardship, and environmental groups, also said on Wednesday that the 2023 farm bill should raise the enrollment cap for the land-idling Conservation Reserve.

Put more money into land stewardship, says NASDA

The 2023 farm bill should expand funding for USDA soil and water conservation programs and allow payments to the so-called early adopters of climate-smart farming practices, said the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture on Tuesday. NASDA said the farm bill "must remain unified" by pairing farm support and public nutrition programs in one piece of legislation.

Congress encourages corporate sponsorship of USDA conservation programs

In the year-end Washington scramble to pass a government funding package, Congress snuck in a concerning new law that helps agribusiness corporations influence federal farm conservation policy. The SUSTAINS Act, first introduced by Republican leader of the House Agriculture Committee Glenn Thompson, allows corporations to give money to the Department of Agriculture to fund conservation programs. No paywall

Farm Bureau seeks ‘unified’ farm bill of agriculture and nutrition aid

The largest U.S. farm group believes “it makes perfect sense” to combine commodity supports and SNAP in the same piece of big-ticket legislation, said president Zippy Duvall in announcing the American Farm Bureau Federation’s farm bill priorities on Thursday. The AFBF called for higher subsidy rates, at a still-to-be-determined cost, and more emphasis of stewardship on working lands rather than long-term idling of cropland.

Analyst: Climate change is a rare focus in farm bill debate

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.

Report: USDA conservation programs need to focus more on climate change mitigation

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. 

Senate approves additional $20 billion for voluntary conservation practices

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.

With Senate pact, climate-focused farm bill becomes possible

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.

Aid ‘natural climate solutions’ with bigger USDA stewardship spending, says report

Congress should substantially increase — as much as double — funding for USDA stewardship programs that encourage climate mitigation and help farmers make money from climate-smart practices, said a Washington think tank on Wednesday.

New $5 billion cover crop initiative in climate package

Farmers and landowners would share a combined $5 billion in payments for planting cover crops to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff under a proposal written by farm state Democrats in the Senate and House. The package would also boost spending on a handful of existing stewardship programs for total outlays of $28 billion.

U.S. should offer incentives for conservation practices – Report

Economic concerns are often a driving factor when farmers decide whether to adopt conservation practices such as cover crops or diversified crop rotations, said the AGree farm policy initiative in a paper released on Wednesday. The paper called for more coordination of conservation practices with the taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance system.

Stabenow backs a near-doubling of USDA stewardship funding

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.

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