USDA announced plans Tuesday to provide additional coronavirus relief to farmers, biofuel producers and food companies and to expand the Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers conservation initiative, known as CLEAR30, to the entire country.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack denied Thursday that President Joe Biden’s goal of conserving 30% of the nation’s land by 2030 is a “land grab” but is instead intended to protect “private, working lands" through voluntary programs.
Democrats are preparing to pour money into federal conservation programs as a key way to pay farmers to address climate change. Converting marginal croplands to grass through the Conservation Reserve Program is one way to do it, but the question is whether USDA can get landowners interested in it again.
Providing some parting advice on climate policy, House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson said he was introducing legislation that would require the Agriculture Department to take 50 million acres of cropland out of production through the Conservation Reserve Program.
Producers can begin signing up for the Conservation Reserve Program Jan. 4 and CRP Grasslands March 15, USDA has announced. The CRP signup will run through Feb. 12, while the grasslands signup will go through April 23.
The centerpiece of Joe Biden’s plan to help farmers address climate change is a “dramatic” expansion of the Conservation Stewardship Program, but he’ll quickly find skeptics on Capitol Hill and among environmental groups if he gets elected and tries to carry out the proposal.
House Democrats are proposing a sweeping plan to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that calls for major increases in land retirement as well as conservation incentives on working lands to keep carbon in the soil.