Pingree introduces Ag Resilience Act
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, last week introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act, which she said would “promote farmer-driven climate solutions.”
The bill sets a vision of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. agriculture by the year 2040.
“Farming has always been a risky business, but unpredictable, extreme weather patterns are creating immense challenges that threaten our nation’s food production and jeopardize the livelihood of American farmers,” said Pingree, who has been an organic farmer of more than 40 years. “Last year, farmers were unable to plant 19.6 million acres of crops due to record-breaking rainfall. We must be proactive to keep farmers on the land and in business.”
The bill contains provisions to increase agricultural research, improve soil health and protect farmland by increasing funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program and the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program and amend the tax code to exclude from gross income the gain from the sale of 1) permanent conservation easements and 2) farm property to beginning, socially disadvantaged, veteran and young farmers.
The bill would also create a new alternative manure management program to support an array of livestock methane management strategies and a new grant program to help very small meat processors cover the costs associated with meeting federal inspection guidelines, and a Grasslands 30 pilot program within the Conservation Reserve Program to enroll grassland that is exiting CRP or at risk of conversion.
It would also increase funding for the Rural Energy for America Program, direct USDA to study dual-use renewable energy and cropping or livestock systems, and move the AgSTAR program to NRCS to provide technical assistance to farmers interested in reducing methane emissions through anaerobic digestion.
Finally, it would standardize food date labels to reduce consumer confusion, create a new USDA program to reduce food waste in schools, and increase federal support for composting and anaerobic digestion food waste-to-energy projects. ❖
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This the first in a six-part series of articles covering basic water law in the United States, predominately in the western part of the country, and how it affects this finite resource.