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Agriculture can be climate leader with ‘build back’ funding, says Vilsack

The farm sector would gain $27 billion for climate mitigation, including payments for planting cover crops, from the social welfare and climate change bill passed by the House, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Agriculture can lead the way in the fight on climate with climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices that sequester carbon, reduce emissions and create new and better market opportunities for producers.”

The bill, sent to the Senate on a House vote that followed party lines, allots $5 billion for the cover crop program, with payments of $25 an acre for up to 1,000 acres per farmer.

Also earmarked were $10 billion to expand food programs for school children, $27 billion for forest restoration and wildfire prevention and $6 billion for debt relief to economically distressed farmers in high-poverty areas. It also would grant employment and travel authorization to undocumented immigrants, including farmworkers, who have been in the United States since at least 2011 if they apply for parole, pay a processing fee and pass background and security checks.

Along with the cover crop program, the bill would expand funding for four USDA land stewardship programs by roughly $22 billion with a priority of capturing carbon in soil and reducing nitrogen losses and greenhouse gas emissions from farms.

“With significant investments in resources for farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners, this bill provides a host of new tools to deploy important conservation practices and the research essential to inform them,” said Vilsack.

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