USDA is investing $300 million for carbon measurement and monitoring to help advance its climate change efforts in agriculture and forestry.

The money, which comes from the Inflation Reduction Act, also will be used for carbon reporting and verification, the department said in a release.

“One of the big remaining technological challenges for tackling the climate crisis is ensuring that natural solutions in agriculture and forestry are working well,” said John Podesta, senior adviser to President Joe Biden for clean energy innovation and implementation. “Today’s USDA announcement of $300 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to measure and verify emissions from those sectors is a big step in the right direction.”

USDA said the investments "will advance priorities set by the broader Federal Strategy to Advance Greenhouse Gas Measurement and Monitoring for the Agriculture and Forest Sectors, which was also released today as draft for public input and outlines a strategic framework and priority actions for improving accuracy and reducing uncertainty in greenhouse gas estimates,” USDA said.

In order for ag and forestry to play a significant role in the fight against climate change, “We've got to get the science and the innovation right,” Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters.

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“We have to have accurate, reliable measurements of the impact and effect of the changes and the practices that we're embracing,” he said. “We get those from constantly monitoring those practices, and making sure that we're reporting them and verifying those results. This is going to allow us to know what works and frankly, what doesn’t.”

USDA said it’s identified “seven key focus areas” related to the framework.

  • Establish and advance a Soil Carbon Monitoring and Research Network with a perennial biomass component;
  • Establish and advance a Greenhouse Gas Research Network;
  • Expand data management, infrastructure and capacity;
  • Improve models and tools for assessing greenhouse gas outcomes at operational, state, regional, and national scales;
  • Improve NRCS conservation practice standards and implementation data to reflect greenhouse gas mitigation opportunities;
  • Improve temporal and spatial coverage of national conservation activity data; and
  • Strengthen the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Assessment Program of USDA.

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