President Joe Biden released his full budget request for fiscal 2022, detailing his plans to ramp up spending at the Agriculture Department for climate research and agricultural adaptation while also increasing spending for environmental regulation at the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department.
The budget includes both Biden's annual spending requests for departments and agencies as well as the sweeping, longer-term proposals under his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan to address climate change, build roads and other infrastructure and reduce economic inequality.
The $29.9 billion in budget authority that Biden is requesting for FY22 at USDA includes $914 million earmarked for climate research and resilience programs as well as clean energy.
The administration proposes no cuts in farm programs, including the crop insurance program, and is requesting funding to support an estimated $10.4 billion for farm loans to an estimated 52,000 farmers, and the budget would fully fund USDA's vast network of county offices
The budget also includes $33.7 million for resolving ownership and succession issues with heirs’ property, Black-owned land with clouded titles.
Spending for expansion of rural broadband service through USDA’s ReConnect grant and loan program would be increased by $65 million to $700 million in FY22.
USDA's overall $29.9 billion budget request, which would be a 9% increase over fiscal 2021, is for discretionary spending programs that are subject to annual appropriations by Congress. USDA’s total estimated budget for FY22 is $198 billion, which includes the cost of farm programs, nutrition assistance and other mandatory spending programs where the cost is set by law or depends on program eligibility.
“We will deliver safe and nutritious food, clean water and last-mile broadband, energy security, sound infrastructure, and business services, all while tackling the climate crisis to build back better, stronger, more resilient, and more equitable in service delivery,” says the USDA budget summary.
The 2022 fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
There is no mention in the budget of using the Commodity Credit Corp. for climate-related spending. Total CCC spending for FY22 is estimated at $10.3 billion, far below the CCC $30 billion in spending authority. The idea of using the CCC to support carbon markets has run into intense Republican opposition.
But there climate-related spending increases throughout the budget.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service's budget for conservation technical assistance would by increased by $43 million to $774 million to support the administration's emphasis on helping producers implement climate-friendly farming practices.
Funding for USDA’s climate hubs, multi-agency regional centers that provide advice and analysis on climate adaptation, would be increased by $3 million to $23 million in FY22.
The Agricultural Research Service’s budget authority would be increased from $1.6 billion to $1.9 billion in FY22, with increases of $99 million for clean energy and $92 million for climate science.
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which funds research outside USDA at land-grant universities and other institutions, would see its budget authority increased from $1.8 billion to $2.2 billion. Some $91 million would be earmarked for climate research.
The Economic Research Service’s budget would be increased from $85 million to $91 million in FY22, allowing for a $4 million increase in climate research.
Another $46 million is earmarked in the budget for Biden's Civilian Climate Corps, which could provide assistance with conservation projects. The CCC will "provide pathways to employment for a diverse generation of Americans to promote environmental sustainability," the USDA budget says.
An additional $400 million is earmarked for the Rural Utilities Service to help rural electric cooperatives to transition to carbon-free power.
The budget also details a proposal in Biden’s American Jobs Plan to spend $1 billion on what USDA calls a “net-zero ag technology initiative.”
The proposal also would include $400 million for forests and forest products research as well as $400 million, spent over four years, for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The Rural Energy for America Program, which funds energy efficiency and renewable energy products, would get $200 million.
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The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would increase by about $2 billion to $11.2 billion, a 22% hike that would give the agency its largest budget ever. Some $1.8 billion is allocated toward climate change efforts, and half of that would go for environmental justice, the agency said.
The Accelerating Environmental and Economic Justice initiative would invest $936 million “in new and existing EPA programs that would help create good-paying jobs, clean up pollution, implement the Justice40 initiative, advance racial equity, and secure environmental justice for communities who too often have been left behind, including rural and tribal communities,” EPA’s “Budget in Brief” document says.
“This includes more than $100 million to develop and implement a new community air quality monitoring and notification system that will monitor and provide real-time data to the public on environmental pollution.”
Also among the beneficiaries of EPA’s budget increase: the agency’s geographic water programs, which help states, tribes and other entities restore major watersheds across the country.
Those programs “provide resources to accelerate ecological restoration and sustainable management in the Chesapeake Bay, Columbia River, Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, Lake Pontchartrain, Long Island Sound, Northwest Forest Watershed, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, South Florida, and Southeast New England,” EPA’s budget document says.
EPA has proposed a 6.7% increase for those programs, from about $542 million to $578 million, with the Great Lakes targeted for $340 million and the Chesapeake Bay $90.5 million
EPA would provide a small increase for its Section 319 nonpoint source grant program, from $177 million to $180 million. “EPA and the USDA will work collaboratively in high-priority, focused watersheds to address agricultural nonpoint source pollution,” EPA said in its budget document. “The goal of this collaboration is to coordinate agency efforts, thereby increasing conservation on the ground to better protect water resources from non-point sources of pollution, including nitrogen and phosphorus.”
Grants to implement pesticide programs at the state and tribal level would go up slightly, to $12.5 million. The same is true for grants for pesticide enforcement, which would see a small increase to $24.5 million.
Over at the Interior Department, the Fish and Wildlife Service would get a 20% boost in funding for its principal resource management programs, to about $1.9 billion. The service’s endangered species program would get a 23% boost, to $332.1 million.
The Bureau of Land Management also would get a 23% increase, for a fiscal 2022 budget of about $1.6 billion. Scattered throughout the Interior budget are allocations for the administration’s Civilian Climate Corps initiative. The BLM budget includes $16.5 million, the FWS budget $14 million, and the National Park Service budget $40 million.
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