Agriculture Dept. to Invest $300 Million to Measure Greenhouse Emissions

The USDA announced Wednesday that it will establish a monitoring and data collection network to measure greenhouse gas emissions and determine how much carbon can be captured by specific farming practices.

The network leverages $300 million in funding from the Controlled Inflation Act and is the result of so-called climate-smart and regenerative farming practices, which are fundamental to the department’s approach to addressing the issue of global warming. will help quantify the The research and data collected will also be important in gauging progress on President Biden’s goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2010.

“We don’t just promote climate-smart agriculture, we don’t just promote good science,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at a press conference Tuesday ahead of the announcement. “It is also about expanding income streams for small and medium-sized producers.”

The Reinforced Inflation Act, a broad set of climate, tax and health policies that Mr. Biden signed into law last year, is about 200 to bolster existing agricultural protection programs that encourage practices such as sowing cover crops and not tilling the land. provided billions of dollars. The department also provided billions of dollars in additional funding for agricultural projects that reduce emissions by capturing carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases, from the atmosphere and storing it as carbon in the soil. ing.

But skeptics warn that these farming methods have not been proven effective in mitigating climate change. For example, researchers don’t know how much carbon can be stored in soil and for how long.

The $300 million investment aims to address scientific uncertainties regarding these practices. Establish a network to study how carbon is captured from soils across the country, build a network focused on greenhouse gas emissions, and improve models to better measure agricultural conservation programs. It’s planned.

Construction of the network will take place over the next eight years, and the USDA will release the data one year after it is collected, the spokesperson said.

Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for the non-profit advocacy group Environment Working Group, welcomed the move, calling the investment “a really important foundation that should have been laid 20 years ago.”

“We misuse the tens of billions of dollars we spend on conservation because we don’t have enough knowledge about what activities will reduce emissions,” he said. added. “This is a huge, existential problem that puts the planet at risk, and the USDA is beginning to address it.”

Currently, the agricultural sector is about 10% of national emissions, according to government data. But existing data collection systems may be missing, outdated, or may not provide detailed information about individual farming practices, said William Hohenstein, director of the Department of Agriculture’s Energy and Environmental Policy Bureau. rice field.

The announcement was made by some Republican lawmakers. Seeking withdrawal of $20 billion in funding Legislation from the Inflation Control Act dedicated to agricultural protection.

Vilsak warned that such a reduction in funding would be a “big mistake” as future efforts such as data collection networks could encourage investment and growth in certain agricultural practices. A more accurate measurement of that impact could open up more market opportunities for both government and private sector farmers, he said. These could take the form of higher prices for carbon credits or conservation easements, for example.

“We intend to collect a considerable amount of information, which will allow us to strengthen the reliability of the information provided in a uniform way, which will generate even greater trust and, in turn, the market. It enables development, resulting in greater employment and income opportunities for farmers, ranchers and producers, all of which also contribute to the creation of jobs in rural areas,” said Vilsac. said.

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