Ag Policy Blog

As Deal is Close, Stabenow Champions Climate-Smart Ag for Reconciliation Bill

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, makes the case to keep agricultural funding in the reconciliation bill to address climate change. (DTN file photo)

With President Joe Biden apparently set to announce a framework for a deal on his social programs, the House of Representatives may eventually move ahead on the infrastructure bill as well.

Biden was expected to lay out his latest framework on Thursday, and then speak directly with House Democrats, before the president begins an international trip. Biden is scheduled to meet in Rome with Pope Francis on Friday, attend the G20 meeting in Rome over the weekend and then attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

As far as the Build Back Better Act -- the budget reconciliation plan -- Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom earlier Wednesday that all the agriculture and food programs in the House proposal for the Build Back Better Act had taken a "haircut" but remained "in good shape," published an opinion article in The Hill promoting the importance of climate-based agricultural policy that is in the Build Back Better Act.

The agricultural funding included $28 billion proposed for conservation programs meant to encourage farmers to adopt climate-smart practices. Under the details, the bill would spend $5 billion for a cover crop program that would operate through the Farm Service Agency. Another $9 billion will boost spending for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and $4 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program. Another $7.5 billion will got to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP); $1.5 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP); $600 million for USDA to quantify greenhouse-gas reductions; and $50 million for USDA's climate hubs.

Within those funds for EQIP and CSP, the plan called for a program that would pay farmers up to $25 an acre to plant cover crops.

Another $66 billion in agricultural funds included $40 billion for forestry programs, $18 billion for rural development, and $7.75 billion for agricultural research programs.

In her column, Stabenow highlighted the acceleration of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. She also cited the need to accelerate emission reductions, and the need to take steps to remove carbon from the air.

"One key solution, too often overlooked, is already here -- in the land under our feet and the trees that surround us. Farmers, ranchers and foresters are uniquely positioned to address the crisis head-on through climate-smart stewardship," Stabenow stated.

Stabenow pointed to the value of regenerative and climate-smart practices, including cover crops and managed grazing practices. Research also can help farmers and ranchers reduce "super pollutants" such as nitrous oxide and methane.

"With better technology, more farmers are able to reduce their fertilizer usage, thereby preventing excess nitrous oxide emissions, which are hundreds of times more potent than carbon dioxide."

Stabenow then pointed to research such as ranchers feeding seaweed to cattle, which can reduce methane emissions by up to 80%. "Many of these breakthroughs are the result of public-private research partnerships, which we must do more of to accelerate their adoption and impact on the climate crisis."

The senator pointed to the damage -- "the federal government has spent an average of $126 billion a year over the past five years alone to respond to the damage caused by a changing climate." She cited that is threatening to exceed funding in the budget to tackle pollution.

"The climate crisis is the defining challenge of our time. Given the right support, our land and trees can be a meaningful part of our response, alongside aggressive emissions reductions in other sectors like energy and transportation.

"We need to act now with the sense of urgency that this moment requires."

"In reconciliation, climate-smart agriculture and forestry is the way forward"…

"Scientist: Livestock Producers Have Financial Opportunity in Cutting Methane"…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


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