Last week the Senate unveiled an updated version of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bipartisan infrastructure package negotiated between the White House and a bipartisan group of Senators. In response, the National Potato Council and a coalition of 12 agricultural and conservation organizations sent a letter to Congressional leadership supporting the bill’s significant new funding for climate-smart agricultural practices that can help farmers to build on their environmental stewardship leadership. The group wrote: “Farmers and ranchers tend with great care to their natural resources while taking a proactive approach to the long-term sustainability of their land and water. Currently, USDA conservation financial incentives and technical assistance provide producers with voluntary, incentive-based assistance to carry out multiple stewardship practices on their operations. Programs also support partnerships between farmers and conservation groups to improve natural resources in targeted areas. However, more can be done to emphasize innovative approaches that can yield meaningful environmental benefits, including manure and feed management or carbon benefits in the case of soil health.” While the organizations also voiced their support for the bill’s increased rural broadband investments, they reiterated their significant concerns regarding multiple tax policies that have been put forth as potential offsets for infrastructure legislation. “Specifically, we urge Congress not to alter or eliminate long-standing provisions that support future new and multi-generational family farms. As discussions on offsets continue, it is critical to avoid an approach that would undermine the future of farming in the United States,” they wrote. The full letter can be found here.
In a related effort, the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA), of which NPC is a member, sent a letter to House and Senate leadership in support of a budget reconciliation package that “offers a significant opportunity to increase funding for voluntary, incentive- and science-based climate and conservation programs.” However, the group cautioned that “the package must also protect existing farm bill programs and do no harm through tax changes that threaten the economic sustainability and resilience of multi-generational family farms, working forests and lands and the entire food supply chain.” That letter can be found here.