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Advocates: Agriculture needs $200 billion increase for climate mitigation

Land stewardship programs now receive around $6 billion a year, or $60 billion over 10 years.

Congress should provide $200 billion in new funding over a decade to reach the goal of “negative emission farming,” said 450 conservation, consumer, farm, and environmental groups in a letter on Tuesday. The increase would be the equivalent of all the funding in the 2018 farm bill for crop subsidies, land stewardship, crop insurance, research, and rural development.

“We know that the time for transformative investments to help farmers address the climate crisis is now,” said Eric Deeble of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, an organizer of the letter. “This funding request for $200 billion is a down payment on programs that farmers need now to build more resilient food systems.”

The letter said the funding should be part of climate and infrastructure legislation now under discussion. “It would enable at least a doubling of farm bill conservation program funding while also addressing other key underfunded areas in the urgent efforts needed to enhance agricultural resilience, improve soil health, sequester carbon in the soil, and reduce emissions from the agricultural sector,” said the letter.

Land stewardship programs now receive around $6 billion a year, or $60 billion over 10 years. Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow called last week for a $50 billion increase in stewardship spending.

A group of lawmakers was circulating a letter in support of a $200 billion increase in funding for similar purposes as the letter by advocacy groups.

President Biden wants American agriculture to be first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases. The administration says climate mitigation would bring new sources of revenue, such as carbon contracts or new bioproducts.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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