Lawmakers announced their plans for addressing climate change, sustainable ag

Senate ag leaders say that they are days away from releasing a bipartisan climate change bill.

Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow tells Agri-Pulse that funding issues have been worked out. The legislation will lay the groundwork for carbon markets.

A Republican on the committee said that there is more buy-in for farm country than people think and the markets have a good chance of making headway this year.

House Ag leaders have their own ideas on climate change and just hours ago they released their own agenda.

Republic members announced a package of bills aimed at addressing climate change and sustainability in agriculture. Ag Committee ranking member Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania says that many of the existing conservation programs have more demand than funding available.

According to Rep. Thompson, “This bill provides incentives based on current Farm Bill language to open the door for partnerships with the private sector to leverage funding to get more conservation on the ground.”

Illinois Republican, Rodney Davis is looking to incentivize producers to transition to conservation practices on the farm with direct payments and technical assistance.

“This bill will help to optimize agriculture’s ability to sequester carbon, reduce emissions, and it will do it by establishing soil health transition incentive program, and by providing states with flexibility and funding, they’re the ones that will be able to build on existing programs and develop new scientific and best practices to improve soil health,” Davis stated.

On the forestry side, Natural Resources Committee ranking member Bruce Westerman reintroduced the Trillion Trees Act which would not only plant more trees but also allows for better forest management and new markets for wood products.

“We’ve got a component in here for a product called biochar which is very exciting because you can take the low-value products off of the forest that really needs to be thinned but there is no real marketable home for them,” Westerman explains. “You can make biochar which can be added to the soil and greatly benefit agriculture-- biochar is almost pure carbon.”

South Dakota Republican, Dusty Johnson is also looking for timber solutions. His measure would allow for a public-private partnership to remove trees near roadways when they are downed by fire or storms.

“Categorical exclusions will help get that timber out of the forest. Number two, it makes it clear that judicial review will not unduly slow down those types of efforts, and number three, it makes sure the forest service... will allow within 60 days allow for timber sales for private companies to go out and grab that timber,” Johnson notes.

Congressman Thompson sees all of these bills as an alternative to Democrat measures he says could negatively impact the economy.

“All these bills have one thing in common, they are designed to reduce the carbon footprint while increasing productivity and economic competitiveness of our farms and our rural communities,” he adds. “Now we cannot sacrifice a healthy economy for a healthy environment.”

Iowa Republican, Ashley Hinson put forth a bill that increases the cost-share for the purchase of precision ag equipment.


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