Today Farm Action submitted a public comment to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) detailing how to best leverage funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to support farming practices that effectively sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In response to a request for information on where to invest IRA funds, Farm Action voiced support for efforts targeted to foster equity across our food system, while issuing grave antitrust warnings.
Noting the recent implementation of USDA’s “Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities,” in which the lion’s share of funding was awarded to the likes of JBS, Tyson, and Coca-Cola, Farm Action cautioned that “multinational corporate agribusiness might see the implementation of [IRA] funding as an opportunity to further entrench their influence and market power, minimizing its potential effect by greenwashing their environmentally harmful practices, while simultaneously harming independent farmers and ranchers.”
To safeguard IRA funding from monopolies’ grasp and ensure a more effective and equitable expenditure of taxpayer dollars, Farm Action “[encouraged] NRCS to proactively consider antitrust and competition concerns and focus awards on independent farmers and historically underserved producers,” offering concrete recommendations on how to do so.
To help address decades of systemic racism across the USDA, Farm Action urged NRCS to deploy an environmental justice impact assessment in its review of all IRA funding proposals that considers cultural appropriateness, harm to BIPOC communities, and pathways provided to new and aspiring BIPOC farmers.
Additionally, Farm Action’s comment recommended that IRA funding incentivize “conservation practices developed by and in collaboration with our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” who have the most firsthand knowledge of effective carbon reduction strategies.
For instance, a study cited by Farm Action’s comment focused on the carbon sequestration potential of regenerative grazing and diverse husbandry. White Oak Pastures, a family farm in Bluffton, Georgia, found that their “integrated system is six times more carbon efficient than typical American production systems, sequestering 85% of the farm’s total emissions,” and that “rotationally grazed beef may be a very unusual case of having a net negative carbon impact from its production.”
Farm Action’s comment actively discouraged support for industrial carbon sequestration practices that are either ineffective or actively harmful — such as methane digesters, which process methane from Confined Animal Feeding Operations’ manure pits into “natural” gas. “Methane digesters are not a renewable energy source, and encourage the expansion of industrial livestock operations,” the comment emphatically states.
Farm Action will continue to work with NRCS to encourage the agency to equitably incentivize effective practices among independent and family farmers.
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