Ag needs $200 billion over the next decade to be more resilient, groups say
By Diego Flammini
More than 450 organizations representing the food and farming sectors and rural America are asking lawmakers to set aside billions of dollars for climate-focused agriculture improvements.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) sent a letter to Senate and House leaders asking them to include $200 billion over the next decade in the agriculture section of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
The National Farmers Union, National Young Farmers Coalition, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA and the American Grassfed Association are among the letter’s signees.
The groups suggest the funding be distributed to improve programs related to farm bill conservation, research, renewable energy, forestry and other areas.
This level of investment is necessary to ensure farmers and ranchers have the supports they need to continue producing food in a way that takes climate change into account, said Eric Deeble, policy director with the NSAC.
““This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that should result in new investments in resilient food and farming systems and transform how we tackle the climate crisis,” he said in a May 25 statement. “Making these investments now is key to achieving carbon neutral agriculture, building increased resilience, improving rural economies, and increasing job and farming opportunities.”
NSAC issued the letter three days before President Biden released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2022.
The $6 trillion budget request includes $300 million in new money for climate and conservation programs and the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps.
While the funding is appreciated, it falls short of necessary spending to affect real change, Deeble said.
“While climate change is a clear focus of the President’s Budget, it falls short of the transformative investments in working lands conservation programs, like the Conservation Stewardship Program, for which farmers, farm advocates, and Members of Congress have called,” he said on May 28.
Biden’s budget proposal calls for additional funding for the United States Department of Agriculture.
The department had a budget of $23.9 billion in 2021 and Biden is requesting $27.9 billion for 2022. This represents an increase of 16.7 percent.