House GOP package allows donors to name climate projects
Five farm-state Republicans unveiled a package of climate bills that in one instance would allow private-sector donors to USDA conservation accounts to specify where the money would be spent and put “a name or a brand” on a project. Another of the bills would allow landscape-scale forest management projects of up to 75,000 acres — bigger than the District of Columbia — to reduce wildfire risk through forest thinning, controlled burns, salvaging dead or endangered trees, and creation of “fuel breaks” up to .5 mile wide.
The sponsors said the legislation presented innovative climate solutions that would help farmers, ranchers, and forest owners through increased funding or reduced regulation. One of the bills would dedicate $100 million a year of Conservation Stewardship Program funding for grants to states for soil health programs.
A companion bill would authorize producers to tap two USDA stewardship programs to help pay for the same project to purchase precision agriculture equipment and systems. Precision agriculture tailors seed, fertilizer, and pesticide applications based on production fluctuations within a field. The technology potentially increases revenue through more efficient production, but it is expensive.