Funding Prioritizes Climate Solutions for Agriculture
This press release is reposted from National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) NSAC advocates for federal policy reform for the sustainability of food systems, natural resources, and rural communities and CalCAN is a member. See the original post here.
Washington, DC, October 28, 2021 – Today, Congress shared language from the proposed budget reconciliation bill, Providing for reconciliation pursuant to S. Con. Res. 14, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2022, which, if passed, would provide groundbreaking investments to address long-standing inequities in our food and farming system, create jobs for rural communities, and help farmers and ranchers increase their conservation practices to play a central role in our national response to the climate crisis.
“Congress is poised to make a once in a generation investment in effective working lands conservation programs – CSP, EQIP, RCPP, and others – that will put farmers at the center of our national response to the climate change crisis. The Build Back Act, BBB, also contains support that is immediately available for farmer focused climate research programs, like SARE, that will help us understand what practices and tools farmers and ranchers can use to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Eric Deeble, NSAC Policy Director. “NSAC is particularly pleased to see that the bill draws several key climate provisions from the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), a bold climate bill which outlines a farmer-focused, research-driven path to net zero agriculture,” Deeble added.
NSAC is pleased to see $27.15 billion in the reconciliation package designated for a suite of working lands conservation programs, including $4 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), $9 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and $7.5 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Programs like these offer technical and financial support to farmers to implement conservation practices that we know reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil health. This support can increase a farm’s adaptive capacity in the face of extreme weather events and other climate-related impacts. Working lands conservation programs are severely oversubscribed and already subject to automatic annual reductions under budget sequestration. NSAC has advocated that this shortfall be addressed in the BBB package, and we are pleased to see that Congress increased conservation spending to reduce these impacts.
Among the bill’s robust investments in sustainable agriculture research, extension, education, rural development, and urban agriculture programs, NSAC appreciates the $120 million for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, $60 million for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), $210 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), and hundreds of millions of dollars to support minority serving institutions to build capacity and train the next generation of scientists, farmers, ranchers, and food system experts. As the effects of climate change accelerate, it is critical that all producers are able to partner with academics on research that furthers climate change mitigation and adaptation practices in the field.
“The Build Back Better bill will also help eliminate some of the debt of our most economically distressed farmers and ranchers and keep them on their land in this time of crisis,” said Eric Deeble, NSAC Policy Director. “Even with the steep cuts to the budget reconciliation bill necessary to secure its passage, Congress is making a transformative investment in conservation, agricultural research, rural development, food access, and racial equity.”
NSAC encourages Congressional leaders to pass the bill immediately with agricultural spending intact to ensure farmers, ranchers, and foresters are best prepared to deal with extreme weather events caused by climate change that increasingly threaten their livelihoods, as well as the stability of our food supply.
Contact: Laura Zaks
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition