Signup trends for the general enrollment in USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program over the last few years are showing higher acceptance rates, but some fear that’s due to the department lowering the environmental benefits index score, which determines eligibility requirements for the program.
Over 2.5 million out of 3.9 million acres submitted have been accepted by USDA in this year’s Grassland Conservation Reserve Program enrollment, with additional priority zones for elk migratory paths and the Dust Bowl region.
The Agriculture Department is accepting 2.8 million acres into the land-idling Conservation Reserve Program, well under the 4 million acres the Biden administration was aiming for as part of its effort to use farmers to help reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Robert Bonnie, President Joe Biden’s pick to oversee USDA’s farm and conservation programs, insisted Thursday that the administration has the legal authority to use the Commodity Credit Corp. to incentivize climate-friendly farming practices.
The top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee is alleging the Biden administration improperly revised financial incentives to lure lenders to apply for the Conservation Reserve Program and that the resulting contracts may turn out to be invalid.
Farm groups are worried a UN initiative to reshape food production could result in recommendations that harm U.S. trade and deter the use of technology globally. But USDA tells Agri-Pulse the Biden administration will be emphasizing technology and research in its contributions to the UN Food System Summit.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is making it increasingly clear that he’s going to make it a priority to challenge the market power of big food processors and ag input suppliers. How far he ultimately goes remains to be seen. But he’s getting plenty of encouragement from both sides of Capitol Hill.
Climate and infrastructure continue to be front and center on Capitol Hill. The Senate Finance Committee will debate a package of clean energy tax incentives today, while Republicans prepare a new counter-proposal on infrastructure spending ahead of the upcoming Memorial Day break.