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Cover crop rules stir farmer debate on SAF credits


The U.S. Department of Treasury has recently outlined that corn and soybean growers must adopt practices like no-till and cover cropping to qualify for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) tax credits. This move is part of broader efforts under the Inflation Reduction Act to encourage environmentally sustainable agriculture. However, these requirements have sparked a backlash from the farming community, who argue that the costs and operational changes required make the credits less appealing.

The demand for SAF is growing, seen as a potential new revenue stream for farmers struggling with low commodity prices. Yet, the economic reality of implementing the required sustainable practices may not align with the potential benefits. Studies from institutions like Stanford University show that adopting cover crops could reduce yields significantly, translating into substantial financial losses.

Farmers emphasize the need for a more flexible approach that allows them to choose practices suited to their specific conditions. They argue that the one-size-fits-all mandate doesn't account for the diverse climates and soil types across major agricultural regions.

As the industry awaits further guidelines on other related tax credits, such as the 45Z for passenger vehicles, leaders within the agricultural sector are advocating for policy adjustments. They hope future regulations will consider the practical challenges and economic impacts of mandated farming practices, ensuring that environmental goals do not undermine the viability of farms.

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