Washington, D.C. — As Congress works to reauthorize the farm bill, a new analysis from the Center for American Progress argues that the legislation is a major opportunity for private landowners, farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to take action to address climate change and nature loss.
Yet the analysis also warns there is a risk that extreme positions could prevail and Congress could strip away farm bill program investments made in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). That would be a massive step backward on climate, conservation, and rural prosperity.
With 10 percent of U.S. emissions coming from the agricultural sector, the farm bill’s voluntary incentive programs offer plenty of opportunities to reduce emissions and enhance natural stores of carbon through improved practices and land use. In addition, 76 percent of all nature loss in the United States occurs on private lands, where the farm bill offers the largest source of conservation funding.
IRA investments in these programs were a critical down payment on the farm bill, and CAP’s analysis urges lawmakers to build on the $19.5 billion for conservation and climate-smart agriculture and the $13.3 billion for farm bill energy programs invested through the IRA. It recommends that lawmakers prioritize specific policies that will improve ecosystem and community resilience, preserve wildlife habitat, protect drinking water, improve water quality, enhance recreation opportunities, increase energy reliability, cut costs, address inequities, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Read the issue brief: “Why the Farm Bill May Be the Highest-Stakes Climate Fight Flying Below the Radar” by Drew McConville, Jasia Smith, and Mariel Lutz
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at email@example.com.