Ag Policy Blog

Large Coalition Champions $200 Billion More for Ag Programs

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
A coalition of groups is backing a boost of more than $200 billion in spending for USDA programs over the next decade to increase conservation, research, forestry, renewable energy and regional food systems. The groups cite the need to include higher funding in the American Jobs Plan as Congress looks to potentially pass a major infrastructure package. (DTN file photo)

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has sent a letter to congressional leaders on behalf of more than 450 farm and rural development organizations and businesses from across the country, endorsing more than $200 billion over 10 years to bolster farm bill conservation, research, renewable energy, forestry, and regional food system and supply chain resilience programs, in addition to the agriculture, forestry, and rural-related elements already contained in the president's American Jobs Plan.

“We know that the time for transformative investments to help farmers address the climate crisis is now. This funding request for $200 billion is a down payment on programs that farmers need now to build more resilient food systems. More than 450 organizations and businesses have come together to support this groundbreaking request,” said NSAC Policy Director Eric Deeble.

The signers of the letter ranged from the National Farmers Union to the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges to the National Young Farmers Coalition.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has called for adding $50 billion to the American Jobs Plan to boost USDA conservation programs that would be tied to carbon sequestration.

- Coalition letter https://sustainableagriculture.net/…

USDA Launches Effort to Quantify CRP Climate Benefits

The Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency (FSA) on Tuesday announced an initiative to quantify the climate benefits of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts.

“CRP is a powerful tool for implementing voluntary, measurable conservation outcomes to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Nearly 21 million acres currently enrolled in the program prevent the equivalent of more than 12 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Further quantifying program benefits will allow us to better target CRP to achieve continued climate wins across environmentally sensitive lands while strengthening our modeling and conservation planning resources for all producers.”

The CRP pays farmers and landowners to idle land to achieve conservation and wildlife habitat benefits and sometimes to reduce the quantity of commodities produced in order to raise prices.

FSA has historically worked with partners to identify Monitoring, Assessment and Evaluation (MAE) projects to quantify CRP environmental benefits to water quality and quantity, wildlife and rural economies. The agency will invest $10 million through this program to measure and monitor the soil carbon sequestration and other climate and environmental benefits of conservation practices over the life of CRP contracts.

USDA is seeking proposals for projects to survey, sample and measure the climate benefits of land enrolled in the following CRP practice types over time:

? Predominantly perennial grass with legumes and shrubs, depending on the practice.

? Tree wetland, including both mineral and organic soils and both floodplain and non-floodplain wetlands.

A project can cover one or more of the above practice types and should be for a three- to five-year term, with the potential for renewal. Projects should be a minimum of $1 million and not exceed $9 million.

Applications are welcome from all types of organizations, including public, private and nonprofit institutions. Project proposals can be from a single entity or from a group of partners who coordinate efforts. Applications from or in partnership with Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU), Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCU) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) or organizations will be considered as part of the selection process.

The deadline for proposals is July 2.

FSA – Conservation Reserve Program Climate Change Mitigation Assessment Initiative solicitation for proposals https://www.fsa.usda.gov/…

Request for Proposals https://www.fsa.usda.gov/…

Report: Farmers Struggle with Child Care and Health Insurance

Farmers are struggling with child care and health insurance, according to an article by three academics published in The Conversation. The National Farm Medicine Center has highlighted it.

Research from sociologists at Ohio State University shows as the country shifts from an older generation of farmers to a younger generation, health care and child care will be two crucial ingredients for helping young producers. Currently, half of all farm families have at least one adult working an additional full-time job often to secure health insurance for the family.

"Farmers in states as diverse as Mississippi, California and Nebraska have shared the lengths they have gone to stay eligible for public health insurance. In extreme cases, farmers have said they kept marriages secret. Often, farmers feel trapped: Too much income can put them over the threshold for public benefits."

The report also cites a national study of farm parents before the pandemic that found two-thirds of them had struggled with the costs, availability and quality of child care as well.

The report raises the question as to whether insurance and child care should be "core infrastructure" for farmers and rural families going forward.

The Conversation – Family farms are struggling with two hidden challenges: health insurance and child care https://theconversation.com/…

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton contributed to this report.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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