Reconciliation bill includes ag conservation programs

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., on Thursday, July 28, suddenly announced that he had reached agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to support a broader reconciliation bill that includes agricultural conservation provisions.

The bill is called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. President Biden said in a statement that he had spoken with Schumer and Manchin and “offered my support for the agreement they have reached on a bill to fight inflation and lower costs for American families.”

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced that there will be a nearly $40 billion investment in agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to fight inflation and lower costs for the American people through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

“The historic investments will lower costs for Americans, support jobs in rural America, and tackle the climate crisis,” said Stabenow. “We are equipping farmers, foresters, and rural communities with the necessary tools and resources to be a part of the solution and grow their local economies at the same time.”

The Senate Democrats said the 725-page bill includes:

▪ More than $20 billion to support climate-smart agriculture practices.

▪ $5 billion in grants to support healthy, fire resilient forests, forest conservation and urban tree planting.

▪ Tax credits and grants to support the domestic production of biofuels, and to build the infrastructure needed for sustainable aviation fuel and other biofuels.

▪ $2.6 billion in grants to conserve and restore coastal habitats and protect communities that depend on those habitats.

The National Association of Conservation Districts said it “applauds the historic investments to bolster conservation efforts across the country included in the recently released Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.”

NACD added, “This proposal from the U.S. Senate would provide strong funding for critical conservation programs at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, including:

▪ $8.45 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

▪ $6.75 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

▪ $3.25 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

▪ $1.4 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)”

NACD said “The proposal also includes $1 billion for conservation technical assistance, which allows NRCS and conservation districts across the country to help producers and land managers assess resources needs, develop plans, and implement effective conservation practices. This funding will also support critical NRCS staffing needs.”

“NACD applauds these proposed investments in farm bill conservation programs, conservation technical assistance, and other critical conservation initiatives,” said NACD President Michael Crowder.

“USDA conservation programs are oversubscribed, and this funding would go a long way in helping more producers across our country implement conservation practices to improve their operations and make their lands more resilient to the changing climate.”

NACD also noted, “The proposal would also invest billions of dollars to support healthy forest management practices, public lands maintenance, and wildfire mitigation and resilience, as well as other conservation efforts in rural and disadvantaged communities.”

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson said, “As electric co-ops continue to innovate and lead, direct access to energy innovation tax incentives is absolutely critical.”

“This bill creates direct incentives for co-ops to bolster investments in carbon capture, grid modernization, renewables, battery storage and other energy technologies. I thank Sen. Manchin for his strong leadership on this issue and his commitment to securing a brighter future for rural America.”

Mike Lavender, the interim policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, urged Congress to pass the package.

“If passed, this legislation could pave the way for a climate-focused 2023 farm bill,” Lavender said.

“The package includes much-needed investments to help farmers and ranchers adopt conservation practices to build climate resilience, reduce emissions, and play a central role in our national response to the climate crisis.”

Growth Energy, which represents builders and managers of biofuels plants, welcomed the inclusion of the biofuel provisions in the bill, particularly the allocation of $500 million to infrastructure investments designed to open new markets for higher biofuel blends. It also boosts or extends tax credits for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), carbon capture, advanced biofuels, and biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels.

“It’s very encouraging to see Senate negotiators continue to recognize key priorities we’ve pushed forward over the last year, including SAF, infrastructure, and other incentives aimed at maximizing the biofuel industry’s contributions to a low-carbon future,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

“For the U.S. to meet its climate goals, we must quickly expand the volume of low-carbon biofuels available across the entire transportation sector – on the ground, in the air, and at sea. These provisions can jump-start that climate progress, while delivering more savings at the pump, greater long-term energy security, and a welcome economic boon to rural communities.

“We know from experience that this process is far from done, and we continue to review other details of the proposal, but we look forward to continuing our work with champions in the House and Senate to ensure our priorities are reflected in any final package.”


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User