Pass A Climate Smart Farm Bill

The 2023 farm bill is a once-in-5-years opportunity to cut down on the agricultural sector’s greenhouse gas emissions and to improve our progress towards our climate goals.
 We can’t miss out on this huge opportunity!

What is the Farm Bill?

The farm bill is a major piece of legislation that is passed every five years, and provides key funding to essential agriculture and nutrition programs. This funding is awarded to farmers, ranchers, and other kinds of producers through payments supporting specific agricultural activities, which can incentivize certain kinds of farming practices, including climate-smart ones, while relieving the financial burden of implementing them.

The last farm bill was passed in 2018—and the world has changed a lot since then. The Covid-19 pandemic left farmers, producers, and low-income communities around the country desperate for renewed support. Meanwhile, global warming continues to worsen. Urban and rural communities alike are pressing for a new farm bill that reflects and accounts for their current needs. No matter what, Congress will pass a new farm bill this year, so it’s up to us to make sure this bill is as good as possible.

We Need a Farm Bill for Climate Justice

The agricultural sector emits roughly 10% of the US’s greenhouse gas emissions, and we cannot ignore this contribution as the climate crisis worsens. This farm bill  provides a major chance to confront the agricultural sector’s carbon emissions through climate-smart farming practices over the next five years. The programs in this bill “represent the largest source of federal funding for private landowners to preserve and steward their lands, waters, and wildlife for current and future generations,” according to the Center for American Progress.

We Need a Farm Bill for Social Justice

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is one of the farm bill ‘s most important programs. It received more than 70% of the farm bill ‘s funding in 2018. Reducing the amount of SNAP that families receive during record inflation, and changing job requirements during high unemployment will only perpetuate poverty and hurt families who need the help most. By contrast, preserving or bolstering current nutrition funding through the 2023 farm bill  offers a way to provide access to food for lower-earning individuals and their families. Both rural and urban communities depend greatly on the farm bill ‘s nutrition programs, particularly SNAP. Some studies show that rural communities might actually benefit more from SNAP than urban ones. 

What Does a Climate-Smart Farm Bill Look Like? 

The Inflation Reduction Act allocated nearly $20 billion in additional funding to existing greenhouse-gas-mitigating and carbon sequestration conservation programs for Fiscal Years 2023 – 2026, and we believe many of these programs should be replenished and renewed through this year’s farm bill . Here are examples of the great programs this bill can fund: 

Helps farmers develop a conservation plan through technical and financial assistance. These plans are designed to implement practices that can lead to healthier air, water, soil and wildlife ecosystems, all while improving the farm’s output. EQIP had $250 million for disbursement to farmers, and it received about 9,000 applications totaling nearly $475 million in demanded funding.

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Enables producers to develop a custom plan to improve pre-existing conservation efforts on a producer’s land, and funds to support these plans. CSP has received nearly 3,700 applications requesting funding that exceeds the available amount of $250 million.

 Leverages public and private collaboration to improve and implement conservation projects through contracts and easements with producers, or by providing funding to partners working on conservation on eligible land. RCPP, for which $250 million was made available, has received project proposals exceeding $2 billion in funding.

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 Not only are the climate-smart conservation programs great for our environment, they are also extraordinarily popular among farmers. However, demand for these programs almost always exceeds the supply of funds. 

The House and Senate's Farm Bill Frameworks

The Senate Agriculture Committee’s farm bill framework would improve accessibility to these conservation programs, especially for small farms. Furthermore, it would allow states to select high-priority conservation practices that advances its state-wide and local climate adaptation plans. The Senate’s farm bill proposal also permanently allocates funding from the IRA to climate-smart practices. 

By contrast, the House Agriculture Committee proposes removing the climate-smart requirements of the Inflation Reduction Act’s funding, instead funding conservation programs that may actually harm our climate.

Besides protecting the Inflation Reduction Act’s historic investment in climate-smart agriculture, there are a number of other changes Congress can make to each program to bolster their potential. 

Pass a Climate Smart Farm Bill Now!

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Resources

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