Top agriculture officials in the Biden administration say news will be coming soon about pending climate programs and clean water regulations.
USDA Farm Production and Conservation Undersecretary Robert Bonnie, EPA Ag Advisor Rod Snyder, and Growth Energy lobbyist Chris Bliley spoke on this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, which took place in Kansas City, Mo., at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Annual Convention.
For his part, Bonnie said phase two of the Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities program will be rolling out soon.
“We're going to roll another about $325 million for about 65, maybe a little bit more, projects. We expect to see that in the coming weeks — it’s not long away,” Bonnie said.
Those projects were chosen from 600 applications and will focus on historically underserved producers or innovative practices in agriculture and conservation.
PCSC was first announced in February when USDA said it would invest $1 billion in pilot projects that create market opportunities for U.S. agricultural and forestry products that use climate-smart practices. The program hopes to drive more research into new, cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse gas benefits.
In September, USDA announced it was investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first funding pool for the PCSC, which was reserved for larger projects between $5 and $100 million. The upcoming announcement will include projects receiving between $250,000 and $5 million in funding.
Bonnie says the administration is not planning on another funding round for the program next year, and instead is focused on making sure the first two phases of PCSC are being distributed correctly.
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“We haven't thought about a second tranche of funding, we want to get this right,” he said. “You'll see us spending a lot of time on execution, trying to get resources out, doing it in a way that will both help those projects get going, but also we need to do some learning from those projects.”
The Environmental Protection Agency is also working on an update to the Waters of the U.S. rule. Snyder says over the past year the EPA has received more than 120,000 public comments and conducted 10 regional round tables — several hosted by farm groups throughout the country — to understand more about how the rule was working or not around the country, and the agency will make an announcement very soon.
“We’ve learned a lot this year,” Snyder said. “The final rule will reflect all of that input and I expect to see that sometime probably in December.”
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