February 13, 2023
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Zaks
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Washington, DC, February 13, 2023 – Today, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced plans for the implementation of the agricultural conservation provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, an act that provided sweeping greenhouse gas reductions across sectors including farming. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) welcomes the Administration’s approach that encompasses both direct greenhouse gas benefits and the many co-benefits that accompany effective conservation practices.
In addition to the overall implementation of the conservation funds in line with the IRA, the agency also announced a Western Water and Working Lands Framework for Conservation Action to guide conservation spending in Western states toward practices that address drought and related concerns. The Secretary noted that in recent years, $410 million has gone to such practices through existing conservation tools, and that the USDA will plan to build on those investments and leverage existing tools through the new framework. The Secretary notes significant overlap between the WWF and IRA spending.
“NSAC is pleased to see the emphasis on a multi-faceted approach to IRA implementation. By highlighting the simultaneous benefits possible under the spending, USDA will ensure that climate benefits are also benefits for biodiversity as well as water, soil, and air quality. Climate solutions must build farm resilience, and that requires holistic, systems-based farm support. USDA’s plan to work with local partners in rolling out the programs will strengthen that approach” said Cathy Day, PhD, NSAC climate policy coordinator.
USDA received more than 450 comments on plans to implement the approximately $20 billion in funding. Although the agency continues to work through the comments and engage in conversation with state-level staff, they are on track to begin implementation so that the funds allocated for this fiscal year (FY23) can be spent on time. States have their allocations and are ready to move forward with FY23 signups for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). For the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), there will be a national signup opportunity. Finally, USDA will open the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) for funding requests soon. USDA is discussing the details of spending the $300 million allocated for measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification of greenhouse gas emissions with states. Measurement of emissions will play a key role in reporting and follow-up on program implementation.
“NSAC welcomes this announcement because of USDA’s specific plans for identifying and enrolling underserved producers via trusted partners who already work with them in states around the country. We hope to see new cooperative agreements with organizations that collaborate with farmers of color to help make this happen. Generally, this funding should make 2023 one of the best years for farmers to utilize conservation programs in a long time.” Jesse Womack, NSAC Policy Specialist commented.
As an element of the IRA spending, the Western Water and Working Lands Framework for Conservation Action will help target EQIP funds through the WaterSMART Initiative (WSI). For Fiscal Year 2023, NRCS has selected 3 new WSI priority areas and is continuing to offer funding in 37 prior approved areas, making $25 million in EQIP funding available through the WSI across 12 western states.
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more and get involved at: https://sustainableagriculture.net
Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment, Press Releases