President Joe Biden proposes that more landowners be paid not to farm in order to prevent global warming. However, like many things Biden tries to do, he’s having trouble making that happen.
His Department of Agriculture is falling far short of its objective of enrolling additional land in one scheme that has this purpose; enrollment is at its lowest point in almost three decades.
Throwing More Money at the Problem is Solving Nothing
The USDA quadrupled key monetary rewards for the environment helping farmers and ranchers to keep land dormant this summer; however, rising prices of commodities are making crop production more profitable for producers.
Learn about the environmental and economic benefits of streamside forests and other smart farming practices from science journalist @Sarah_Derouin on the 2nd segment of the @mongabay Newscast. #4states1source #WaterQualityMonth https://t.co/8ooQg2s0g2
— Stroud Water Research Center (@StroudCenter) August 27, 2021
Furthermore, the strategy, dubbed as the Conservation Reserve Project, pulls land out of operation for only 10 to 15 years. This means that if the site is cultivated again, the carbon released will balance out the environmental advantage.
The project’s delayed enrollment and transient character raises doubts about whether it will ever make a major contribution to efforts to decrease carbon dioxide emissions. It also demonstrates how hard it is for federal programs to entice the farm business to participate willingly in pollution reduction efforts.
Even the Experts Agree It’s a Bad Idea
Ferd Hoefner (an agricultural and climate expert who was the original policy director for the organization National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition) stated this is not a fantastic climate solution.
Nearly seven months after it froze a Trump-era plan, the Biden administration said on Tuesday that up to $1 billion was available to contract growers of pigs and poultry to offset revenue lost to the pandemic in 2020.https://t.co/8vi89ro4Rk
— Successful Farming (@SuccessfulFarm) August 26, 2021
Although enrollment this year has been smaller than normal, Zach Ducheneaux (director of the USDA’s Agricultural Service Agency which supervises the conservation measures) remains optimistic that the additional funds provided by the government would encourage more owners to join.
In a statement, Ducheneaux said the viewpoint at the Agricultural Service Agency is that they’ve had to start talking about functioning lands and sustainability in the very same breath.
According to Cristel Zoebisch (a policy analyst at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition), the USDA’s new incentives have made the program more appealing this year than last year.
Why Biden wants to break up the powerful US beef industry
“Over the past five years, farmers’ share of the price of beef sales has dropped by more than a quarter – from 51.5% to 37.3% – while the price of beef has risen.” #agriculture #food #farminghttps://t.co/2R2xjOrcdW
— Tyler McGee (@ty_406) August 25, 2021
However, she pointed out that this year’s high commodities prices may be more profitable than any additional funds offered by the Biden government. When commodities prices are high, CRP enrollments tend to decline, according to Zoebisch. The Biden government hopes to register four million new acres by 2021, but so far just 2.8 million have been enrolled.
Even though the USDA reported the low enrollment last week, it emphasized the program’s environmental benefits. Farmers commit to implementing conservation efforts. These efforts entail tree planting or grassland that reduces land degradation; they also involve improving the water quality or providing animal habitats by engaging in the decades-old effort, according to USDA.
In return, FSA pays landowners rent for the 10 to 15 years that their land is registered and participates in the costs of conserving improvements. However, it is unclear how the USDA will determine whether the initiative is effective in terms of conservation.
To help quantify the effectiveness of the program, Ducheneaux said the agency depends on independent analyses from colleges and environmental groups.