Former Vice President Joe Biden issued a $2 trillion environmental plan that makes some wide-ranging proposals for agriculture and land use, including a pledge to offer financial assistance for adoption of new climate-friendly farming practices and technologies.

The $2 trillion plan’s section on investing in sustainable agriculture and conservation also calls for creating a Civilian Climate Corps that will undertake conservation projects, including planting trees, thinning existing forests, restoring wetlands, removing invasive species and enhancing the carbon intake of natural and working lands. 

"Let’s create new markets for our family farmers and ranchers — and a new, modern day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said in a speech Tuesday.

To help farmers adopt new conservation practices, Biden’s plan suggests providing low-cost financing “for the transition to new equipment and methods, funding research and development in precision agriculture and new crops."

He also proposes to establish “a new voluntary carbon farming market that rewards farmers for the carbon they sequester on their land and the greenhouse gas emission reductions, including from methane, that they secure.”

Carbon markets will, in turn, create new income streams for farmers "as they tackle the challenge of sequestering carbon, reducing emissions, and continue their track record as global leaders in agricultural innovation,” the plan says. 

A separate proposal calls for creation of a Advanced Research Projects Agency on Climate, or ARPA-C, whose research priorities would include "decarbonizing the food and agriculture sector, and leveraging research in soil management, plant biologies, and agricultural techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground."

Biden’s plan doesn’t mention — but dovetails with — the recently introduced Growing Climate Solutions Act, which is designed to accelerate the growth of ag carbon credit trading by authorizing USDA to certify third-party verifiers and technical service providers. 

Earlier this month, the Democratic-controlled House’s special climate committee issued a plan that calls for major increases in land retirement as well as conservation incentives on working lands to keep carbon in the soil.

The Biden plan, which links environmental issues to social justice concerns, includes pledges to end discrimination against Black farmers and to expand protections for farmworkers. 

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Biden “will ensure farm workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, regardless of immigration status,” the plan says. 

“He will work with Congress to provide legal status based on prior agricultural work history and ensure labor and safety rules, including overtime, humane living conditions, and protection from pesticide and heat exposure, are enforced with respect to these particularly vulnerable working people," the plan says. 

An ag labor bill that passed the House in 2019 would have provided a path to legal status for existing workers who are in the country illegally while also addressing some farmers’ concerns with the H-2A visa program. 

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