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Farm bill will benefit from climate funding, says Scott

Farmers will be able to adopt climate-smart practices at a faster pace, thanks to funding in the climate, healthcare and tax bill passed by Congress, said House Agriculture chairman David Scott. President Biden planned to sign the bill into law this week.

The legislation included $20 billion for voluntary land stewardship programs; $8.45 billion for the cost-sharing Environmental Quality Incentives Program; $3.25 billion for the working-lands Conservation Stewardship Program; $6.75 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program; and $1 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. The money would be disbursed over three years and available for use through fiscal 2031.

The funding “will be very beneficial as we look to writing the 2023 farm bill, said Scott. “By expanding participation in these programs and providing increased technical assistance funding, farmers will more readily be able to employ proven conservation practices on their land, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and sequester carbon.

“I have always believed that agriculture should be the tip of the spear in addressing the harmful effects of climate change. This legislation helps make that a reality,” said Scott.

The senior Republican on the Agriculture Committee, meanwhile, said the climate, healthcare and tax bill “only complicates the pathway to a farm bill and creates even greater uncertainty for farmers, ranchers and rural communities.”

The Democrat-controlled House passed the legislation, 220-207, on a party-line vote with four Republicans not voting on Friday. Senators approved the bill, 51-50, on Aug. 7, also on a party-line vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

Besides the $20 billion for land stewardship, the bill included $14 billion for rural power and clean energy and $6 billion for wildfire protection and climate-smart forestry. Western senators also secured $5 billion to combat drought in the West. In addition, the bill extends or expands tax credits for sustainable aviation fuel, carbon capture, biodiesel, and renewable diesel.

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