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USDA commits $1 billion to climate-smart agriculture

by Britt E. Erickson
February 13, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 6


A field of crimson clover.
Credit: Shutterstock
Cover crops like crimson clover may be part of the solution to curbing climate change.

The US Department of Agriculture is funding a controversial $1 billion program that will test and verify the benefits of climate-friendly agricultural practices. Announced Feb. 7, the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will support pilot projects on farms and forests that implement conservation practices, such as no-till farming and growing cover crops. The goal of the projects is to measure whether such practices lead to increased carbon in soil and decreased emissions of methane and carbon dioxide. The money will come from the Commodity Credit Corporation, a government-owned entity that provides a safety net for farm income. Republicans in the House of Representatives condemn the USDA’s decision to use that money for the new program without congressional authorization. At a Feb. 8 subcommittee hearing, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, warned USDA climate official Robert Bonnie that the committee will keep a close eye on the program and its funding, implementation, and operation.


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