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Keep climate-smart agriculture in ‘Build Back Better’ bill, say lawmakers

While Democratic leaders in Congress are trying to scale down the cost of President Biden’s social welfare and climate change bill, it is important to make “bold investments … that expand climate-smart agriculture practices,” said two House Democrats. The members of the House Agriculture Committee said the money should be funneled through voluntary programs already offered by the USDA.

The “Build Back Better” bill was expected to include $28 billion for climate mitigation by farmers, ranchers and foresters, including a $5-billion initiative to encourage planting of cover crops. “It is essential that we actively enlist the help of those who know the land best — farmers, producers, ranchers, and forestland owners — to not just cut greenhouse gas emissions but actively sequester carbon from our atmosphere,” wrote Reps. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Meanwhile, dozens of farm, environmental and alternative energy groups asked Pelosi and Schumer to endorse a House Agriculture Committee proposal for $2.55 billion over 10 years to expand the Rural Energy for America Program. It shares the cost of clean-energy projects on the farm and at rural businesses.

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