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.
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.
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.
The Biden administration and congressional Democrats are aiming to use the agriculture provisions in the Build Back Better bill to jump-start farmers’ work on climate-related farming practices and potentially create permanently higher levels of funding for conservation programs.
A provision of congressional Democrats' Build Back Better Act that would pay producers $25 per acre to plant cover crops is getting serious attention from sectors in the agriculture industry with ambitious climate goals, though others are unsure of how effective the measure will be in comparison to existing programs.
Democrats released a scaled-back, $1.8 trillion version of President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan Thursday that includes key climate-smart ag provisions, including a new $25-per-acre payment for cover crops, while creating a new low-carbon tax credit for biofuels.
The Department of Agriculture is in touch with Capitol Hill as Democratic leaders work to craft legislation that has the potential to funnel more money into the farm bill and expand the number of producers who could receive funding and assistance for government conservation programs.
The Agriculture Department continues to insist that working lands will be included in the Biden administration’s goal of conserving 30% of the nation’s land and waters by 2030, as the administration prepares to flesh out some of the details of its 30x30 initiative.