Lawmakers ask for $200 billion for USDA climate work
Thirty Democrats in the House and Senate called on Thursday for “a substantial investment in farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as part of the climate solution.” Their letter to congressional leaders, who are working on broad-scale climate and infrastructure legislation, followed a request earlier this week from more than 450 conservation, consumer, farm, and environmental groups for $200 billion in new funding for ag climate mitigation.
“Specifically, we request that this infrastructure and climate package include $200 billion over the next decade for new and existing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation, research, renewable energy, tree planting, and food systems initiatives, in addition to robust funding for rural development programs, including investments in USDA rural water, broadband, business, and electric programs,” said the letter spearheaded by Reps. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.
A $200 billion 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.
Some rural advocates say the climate and infrastructure bills represent an ideal chance to secure funding for USDA stewardship programs because funding probably will be tight by the time Congress writes the 2023 farm bill.