Funding bill addressing climate change clears Congress

The Inflation Reduction Act is headed to President Biden’s desk for signature. The legislation passed the U.S. House on Friday on a strict party-line vote, 220-207. The bill aims to expand climate-related farming practices, increases investments in conservation, rural development, and energy programs.  The bill also includes new incentives for biofuels.  

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the legislation will create good-paying jobs and more economic opportunities in rural communities across the country.  

National Farmers Union President Rob Larew praised the action and says it makes historic investments in voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs.  Larew also says this will help the farmers’ bottom line and help consumers save money at the fuel pump.

The Land Trust Alliance says this is an unprecedented investment in voluntary private land conservation to protect irreplaceable farmlands, forests, ranches, and wetlands.  American Farmland Trust says Farmers and ranchers are critical allies in the fight against climate change, but they need tools and resources to protect their land, increase resilience to extreme weather, sequester carbon in the soil, and reduce emissions.

American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings says the bill will provide half a billion dollars for E15 and E85 infrastructure and invests $18 billion to support climate-smart agriculture practices.  Jennings says while the bill doesn’t contain everything on the group’s wish list, it doesn’t contain some incredible incentives for farmers and ethanol producers. 

The bill also includes provisions from a bill by Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin that will help expand the market for renewable biogas by providing an investment tax credit to help offset the costs of building biodigester systems on dairy farms.

House Ag Committee Chairman David Scott says the legislation will benefit all Americans and benefit farmers’ bottom line.  The energy and biofuels provisions will help continue the transition to renewable and reliable energy in our real areas and continue a role for biofuels in that transition.  

House Ag Committee Republican Leader Glenn Thompson says the legislation is a “disingenuous and partisan exercise that lacked robust debate and hearings and does nothing to provide relief to rural America.”  Thompson says Democrats chose to ignore 40-year high inflation, exorbitant food and fertilizer prices, severe labor shortages, and relentless overregulation from the Biden Administration.

The bill passed the Senate a week ago, with Vice President Harris breaking the tie.

Brownfield’s Larry Lee contributed to this report.

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