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.
High commodity prices shift conservation lands to crop fields
Landowners told the USDA they will take 1.7 million acres out of the long-term Conservation Reserve and put it back into crop production, betting on profits from sky-high commodity prices. This year’s “general signup” for the reserve would also bring the smallest amount of land into the reserve …
Vilsack sees ‘no significant’ gains from opening Conservation Reserve
The United States stands ready to provide food aid overseas if it is needed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a letter to grain merchandisers. At the same time, the letter closed the door to suggestions for the emergency planting of crops on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve, saying it would be impractical.
Europe to till fallow land to offset food shortages from war in Ukraine
Responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission approved a $550 million aid package for its farmers on Wednesday and said they could grow food and feed crops on fallowed land without losing any of their so-called greening payments.
Increase U.S. food production in response to war in Ukraine, says key senator
The Biden administration should encourage larger domestic food production to blunt the disruptions in global supplies created by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, said the Republican leader of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. Arkansas Sen. John Boozman said the land-idling Conservation Reserve, if needed, could provide millions of acres of cropland and pasture "to address both inflation and food security concerns."
Project will measure carbon on idled U.S. cropland
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.
Grassland enrollment adds 2.5 million acres to Conservation Reserve
The USDA said it accepted offers from landowners to enroll 2.5 million acres under the Grassland option of the Conservation Reserve, double the amount accepted last year. Nearly 45 percent of the new land will enter in two priority zones set by USDA, the Greater Yellowstone Elk Migratory Corridor in the West and the Historical Dust Bowl Region, still at risk of wind erosion, in the central and southern Plains.
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."
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)
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.
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)
Climate bill would expand USDA stewardship programs
The USDA would double the size of the Conservation Reserve, the government’s largest land-idling program, as part of supporting land stewardship on 100 million acres of farmland under companion bills filed in the House and Senate on Monday. Democrats Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Abigail …
Agriculture must be part of climate change negotiations, says Farm Bureau
Although blamed for 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, agriculture has a "great track record" through land stewardship and biofuels in mitigating climate change, says Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, in looking ahead to the Biden administration. "We must make sure we are at the table for discussions around climate change." (No paywall)
Biden vows to pay farmers to plant cover crops and put land in conservation
The government will help farmers mitigate climate change by paying them to "put their land in conservation" and plant cover crops, said President-elect Biden, providing some details on his campaign call to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. The sector accounts for roughly 10 percent of emissions nationwide.
When USDA stops paying rent, idled land usually goes back into crops
A Reagan-era creation, the Conservation Reserve is the largest U.S. land retirement program, paying landowners an annual rent if they idle environmentally fragile cropland for 10-15 years. But when the contracts expire, most of the land goes back into crop production, says a USDA report that …
Trump seeks 31-percent cut in crop insurance
Farmers would pay a far larger share of crop insurance premiums — 52 percent instead of the current 38 percent — under the fiscal 2020 budget proposed by President Trump on Monday. The White House also wants to deny farm program benefits to people with an adjusted gross income above $500,000 a year vs. the current cutoff of $900,000 AGI.
Signup starts today for high-priority land-stewardship projects
The USDA says there is now enough room in the Conservation Reserve that, for the first time in months, it will accept applications for high-priority stewardship projects, such as filter strips, that prevent erosion and maintain water quality on fragile land. Enrollment runs from today through Aug. 17 for the practices, which require comparatively small amounts of land.
House farm bill would eliminate USDA green-payment program
The Republican-sponsored House farm bill unveiled on Thursday would expand the land-idling Conservation Reserve by one-fifth and eliminate the green-payment Conservation Stewardship Program.
One-fifth of land in Conservation Reserve enrolled two decades ago
More than one-fifth of the 24 million acres now in the Conservation Reserve, a long-term farmland retirement program that pays landowners to idle fragile land, have been in the program for 20 or more years.