The Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) is taking center stage in federal policy conversations. The overall plan calls for more than $2 trillion to be invested in rebuilding infrastructure. Talks between the Biden Administration and Senate Republicans continue but no agreements have been reached. In all likelihood, the AJP will pass through budget reconciliation just as the American Rescue Plan did.
The AJP is ambitious and would make historic investments in our country’s infrastructure. However, it falls short and lacks specifics in addressing the role of agriculture in climate mitigation. The AJP calls for investing only $1 billion in climate and agriculture out of the more than $2 trillion package.
This legislation is the one big shot we have to deliver the funding for real climate and agriculture solutions. There is an effort underway to get $200 billion* in this bill to invest in real climate solutions over the next decade. This is the only way to bring more money to the Farm Bill to increase the conservation baseline (learn more about baseline funding here.)
In relation, national conservation groups are coming together around a unified campaign to increase conservation program spending and technical assistance. As part of this effort, more than 130 organizations signed onto a letter to the Senate and House Agriculture Committee leadership, calling on them to double the investment in conservation programs and conservation technical assistance for the next Farm Bill. The letter indicated how Farm Bill conservation programs are consistently oversubscribed. On an annual basis, more than 13.8 million acres in demand for conservation program support goes unmet.
At the end of the day, if the American Jobs Plan fails to deliver more funding to increase the conservation baseline, we will not make progress in driving more conservation, nor will we see progress toward climate change mitigation and agricultural resilience. Without additional funding, we are simply looking at modest tweaks that are budget neutral in the 2023 Farm Bill.
We need so much more. Let’s not throw away our shot.
*SAFSF joined the sign-on letter requesting $200 billion for climate and agriculture in the AJP and we encourage you to do the same. Deadline is Friday, May 21.
Traci Bruckner, SAFSF Public Policy Director, provides insights into key policy issues for funders of sustainable agriculture and food systems in the monthly Policy Connection newsletter for SAFSF members.