The Agriculture Department plans to loosen up existing Conservation Reserve Program rules by allowing participants to request termination of their CRP contract if they are in their final year of the agreement.
Nearly a year after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill aimed at jump-starting ag climate markets, the bill remains mired in the House Agriculture Committee, raising the possibility the legislation could be punted to the farm bill debate in the next Congress.
Thousands of producers hoping to implement more conservation practices on their farms are lining up for government assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives and Conservation Stewardship programs, as the Agriculture Department touts the promises of climate-smart agriculture as a mitigator of climate change. But these programs, despite their billion dollar budgets, aren’t equipped to deal with this demand, forcing the agency to turn away the majority of applicants.
Producers, lawmakers, and administration staffers all agree on the benefits of the technical assistance provided by Agriculture Department conservation officials. The only issue is getting the funding – and the people – to make it happen.
Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee are raising concerns the Biden administration is putting too much emphasis on promoting climate-related ag practices, with one GOP member suggesting the policy was increasing food prices.
The Department of Agriculture is making available $225 million for public-private partnerships aimed at conservation projects, with an eye on climate change mitigation, supporting urban agriculture and helping historically underserved producers.
Conservation groups and the Biden administration are betting big that the promise of direct payments to farmers will supercharge their interest in cover crops, a practice relatively few have tried despite documented benefits to soil health, greenhouse emissions and water quality.
Agri-Pulse has obtained the Senate's revised ag provisions for the Build Back Better bill. They would increase funding for conservation technical assistance by more than $2 billion and provide more modest increases for ag research.