On Tuesday, August 16, President Joe Biden signed into law the Cut Inflation Act of 2022, which passed in a 50-51 vote to the party line (Vice President Harris having broken the equality). While many have dismissed this bill as dead, and many more might quibble over its title, this is unquestionably great news for farmers. This is the largest federal investment in climate-smart agriculture to date, which will better support agricultural practices such as planting cover crops, reduced tillage, livestock grazing and agroforestry.
The Cut Inflation Act provides $40 billion to advance climate-smart agriculture, including $20 billion in additional funding for existing grassroots conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program ( CSP), Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and Agricultural Easement Programs. Many farmers in Pennsylvania have been frustrated by the backlogs and waits associated with enrolling in these conservation programs – to date, only 20% of EQIP applications and 27% of CSP applications from farmers in Pennsylvania are funded. The Inflation Reduction Act will significantly expand these existing programs to support more farmers.
Like any bill that is enacted, some details are not yet finalized. The Reducing Inflation Act provides more than $5 billion to provide financial relief to discriminated farmers before 2021, and the USDA to repay loans held by farmers in financial difficulty. Neither “discrimination” nor “distress” is defined in the law, and should be. The moves sought to quash lawsuits that froze an earlier attempt through the U.S. bailout, which was enacted in 2021, to provide $4 billion in financial assistance to black farmers and other farmers of color who continue to suffer the effects of the loan. discrimination to date. It is vital that the Inflation Reduction Act corrects these injustices.
Additionally, while the Cut Inflation Act provides critical funding to address climate impacts and natural resource degradation through sustainable agricultural practices, there is still work to be done to ensure these funds are evenly distributed among farmers – including farmers of color as well as new and beginners. Farmers. Fortunately, much of this work can be done with the upcoming reauthorization of the Federal Farm Bill in 2023.
With the passage of the Cut Inflation Act, farmers and farm organizations have real momentum to strengthen the climate, conservation and social equity programs of the upcoming Farm Bill to complement the impacts of the act. on reducing inflation. In fact, all farmers can do something right now to tell Congress what you hope to see in the next federal Farm Bill. The US House Agriculture Committee is currently seeking feedback from farmers. Go to agriculture.house.gov and click “Have your say on the upcoming farm bill” to make your voice heard.
Sara Nicholas is Pasa Sustainable Agriculture’s policy strategist. Prior to joining Pasa, she worked as a policy director for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and did fieldwork in forestry, stream restoration, and conservation. planting of riparian buffer zones.