Congress Must Protect Climate Guardrails in Final Farm Bill

May 16, 2024
Austin Matheny-Kawesch, (858) 395-5577,

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Defense Fund strongly opposes the House Agriculture Committee majority's draft farm bill proposal, which removes the climate guardrails from the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) investments in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs and diverts critical funding away from popular programs that are heavily oversubscribed and underfunded. House Republicans’ proposal jeopardizes not only the progress made toward sustainable agriculture, but also the future of American farming and rural communities that feel the most immediate impacts of a changing climate. 

"The removal of climate-focused funding in these programs is a step backward at a time when we need to be moving forward with greater urgency," said Andrew Lentz, EDF’s Director of Federal Affairs for Agriculture Policy. “Stripping these resources away will undermine farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to adapt and thrive in the face of increasingly challenging growing conditions. We must prioritize climate resilience in our agriculture policies to ensure long-term sustainability and food security. If the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate-smart investments are added to the farm bill’s permanent baseline for conservation, they must maintain the critical climate guardrails currently in place." 

The Inflation Reduction Act’s historic investments allocated significant new resources to climate-specific farming practices, recognizing the vital role agricultural producers play in the fight against climate change. These funds are already bolstering farmers' and ranchers' ability to remain productive and profitable on their lands while also reducing emissions, and protecting this critical climate funding will ensure that farmers continue to have access to these important tools in perpetuity. Removing the climate guardrails and repurposing those conservation funds would make farmers and ranchers more vulnerable to climate change and undermine efforts to maintain productive soils, clean water and healthy ecosystems. The benefits of climate-smart agriculture extend beyond environmental gains; they also offer economic benefits by improving yields, reducing input costs and making agricultural operations more resilient to extreme weather. Removing funding for these conservation programs could also lead to higher long-term costs for farmers and increased volatility in agricultural production. 

As farm bill discussions continue, EDF urges the House Agriculture Committee to work together on a bipartisan bill that preserves the Inflation Reduction Act’s climate guardrails on new funding for critical conservation programs.

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