American Farmland Trust Applauds New USDA Actions to Address Climate Change through Conservation Programs
This statement can be attributed to Samantha Levy, American Farmland Trust’s Climate Policy Manager
January 10th, 2022. Washington, D.C. – American Farmland Trust (AFT) praises USDA’s climate change conservation announcement of a $38 million streamlined Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Cover Crop Initiative targeted at 11 states.
Planting cover crops is one of the most impactful and cost-effective actions producers can take to improve their resilience to extreme weather, increase biodiversity, and sequester carbon. Though cover crop use has grown in recent years, it is still only implemented on 5% of eligible acres nationwide. Keeping the ground covered year-round on more acres is a critical climate, soil health, and water quality improvement strategy. In recognition of this, AFT encouraged USDA-NRCS to implement a Cover Crop Initiative as part of our November 2020 transition recommendations to the Biden Administration. This program not only answers our call, but those of many conservation groups across the country.
NRCS also announced additional actions to help more farmers and ranchers address climate change, including the new Farmers for Soil Health partnership, nationalization of EQIP’s five-year Conservation Incentive Contracts, and an administrative change to help those with existing Conservation Stewardship Program contracts. These steps will enable more of our nation’s producers to manage drought, improve soil health, and enhance their viability in the face of a rapidly changing climate.
AFT looks forward to supporting implementation of these efforts and working collaboratively with partners, legislators, and the Administration in the 2023 Farm Bill to engage even more producers in combating climate change. Without our continued and urgent action to reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon – communities at home and abroad, particularly those most vulnerable – will face extreme hardship.