Shop Talk: May 2023

Biden’s Proposed Budget Would Make Cover Crop Pilot Programs Permanent

The Biden administration released a $6.8 trillion budget proposal March 9 that could propel more farmers toward cover crops and other conservation agriculture practices if approved.

The Fiscal Year 2024 Budget requests $30.1 billion for the Department of Agriculture in 2024, a 14% increase from the 2023 enacted level. The budget provides for $208 million more than the 2023 enacted level to boost conservation and agriculture income on private land through the NRCS. 

The proposed budget is attempting to add to past investments through the Inflation Reduction Act with the hopes of increasing voluntary cover crop usage and other conservation farming practices like no-till that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve carbon sequestration. The budget proposes making the USDA’s cover crop pilot program permanent.

Mike Lavender, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), says the proposal would fully fund the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program at $60 million and provides an additional $900 million for conservation tech assistance (CTA). He says he’s encouraged to see this support but disappointed the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative is zeroed out for FY2024, “potentially withdrawing vital support and tools for grazers that are working to address climate change by building more management-intensive rotational grazing systems on the landscape.”

Jim Wiesemeyer, a policy analyst for ProFarmer, tells AgFax that Democrats in the Senate and the House of Representatives will review Biden’s proposal and only draft proposals of their own if…

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