Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) recently came to the Bipartisan Policy Center for a fireside chat on the 2023 Farm Bill with former Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss.
Chambliss is a co-chair alongside former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of BPC’s Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Task Force. The task force issued 24 recommendations focused on finding new ways to incentivize farming, ranching, and forestry practices that deliver both economic and climate benefits. During the event, Chair Stabenow thanked the task force for its work and noted that the majority of its recommendations will be included in the Farm Bill.
Your task force has been absolutely instrumental in helping us and we are taking the majority of the recommendations. Your approach is what I am supporting and what we are putting in the Farm Bill. You have made a major impact everybody here who has been working on this and I want to thank you for all of your efforts.
The Farm Bill—which is passed every five years and sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy—encompasses a wide range of financial and technical assistance programs for farmers and forest landowners. The Inflation Reduction Act also provided new funding for agricultural conservation. Chair Stabenow stressed that these popular conservation programs are a true win-win for farmers and the environment.
We have robust new funding on conservation. Popular, voluntary conservation programs. You are so right about agriculture leading the way. More carbon in the soil, healthier soil. You get carbon out of the atmosphere, healthier atmosphere. It is a win-win. Then if you add carbon markets that have integrity, where farmers can have revenue from this, then you have another win.
While there are still Farm Bill challenges to be addressed, Chair Stabenow said she seeks to preserve the climate-focused attributes of the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) conservation funding as she works with her counterparts towards a bipartisan bill. She would like to either include the IRA funding in the Farm Bill baseline or maintain the funding as set out by the IRA.
If we can focus it on those programs that deal with carbon sequestration, methane management, those things that deal with the climate and the funding. If we can take all of it and move it over to the baseline, that would be ideal. That is something Senator Boozman and I are both interested in doing. What we will not do, what I will not do, is put the money without the focus on climate into the baseline. That will be moving us backwards.
Chair Stabenow also pushed for a “moonshot” in agricultural research to tackle global challenges facing food security and the importance of centering agricultural research in general discussions on research and innovation.
I really believe we need a moonshot in agricultural research for the future. Both for the United States and the globe…How can we broadly make sure that when we are talking about science and research broadly, that we are including agricultural research.
By emphasizing conservation programs, climate opportunities, and innovation priorities, Chair Stabenow spoke to the tremendous potential for a bipartisan Farm Bill to address the needs of America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. This is aligned with the BPC task force’s policy recommendations calling for a rapid scale-up of farm- and forest-based carbon solutions. Beyond helping us meet U.S. climate goals, farm- and forest-based carbon solutions will stimulate investment in rural communities and bolster the long-term resilience and productivity of America’s natural and working lands. A bipartisan Farm Bill is a tremendous opportunity to advance our agriculture and forestry policy for the benefit of all Americans.
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