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Regional reaction to the Inflation Reduction Act’s agricultural provisions

Farm silos
Pat Bradley
/
WAMC
Farm silos

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed last month, includes a number of agricultural provisions including conservation and energy programs and farm debt relief.

There is nearly $40 billion included in the Inflation Reduction Act targeting agriculture, forestry and rural development.

New York Farm Bureau Associate Director of National Affairs Lauren Williams says there is quite a diversity of programs in the bill, including more than $18 billion to fund renewable energy and conservation initiatives.

“Some of the big ones that we’re really looking forward to are some of the conservation programs. And that’s funding for farmers to implement voluntary conservation programs that are climate related. But also we’re looking at some of the rural renewal energy programs that can help farmers put more efficient energy on their farms as well as possibly invest in digesters or biodiesel or other types of renewables practices on their farms.”

The bill includes $3.1 billion for agricultural debt reduction and $2.2 billion for farmers who have experienced discrimination in USDA loan programs. Williams says it’s important assistance for distressed and underserved farmers.

“Be it beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged, farmers that may have been discriminated in the past, I think this will be a good opportunity for USDA to kind of broaden their ability to serve those farmers that and assist those farmers who may not have been able to access programs in the past.”

Pawelski Farms in Goshen produces mostly mixed greens. Owner Chris Pawelski is a fourth generation farmer who calls himself a grassroots public policy advocate. He helped write and worked with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office to include the debt reduction provision in the bill.

“It actually goes back to 2019 during the presidential debates. They would constantly talk about debt forgiveness for students, for student loans, for mortgages, for medical debt. There was never any mention of agriculture debt. So I crafted a proposal and what’s nice about this is it’s really targeted to smaller farmers. You know one thing too this isn’t about charity. This is about smart public policy. Because we need to have as varied a food production system as possible with as many small operators as possible with direct relationship with consumers where they live.”

Pawelski is also pleased to see the environmental and conservation provisions for farmers that are included in the Act.

“Starting to address climate change and having programs in regards to that is very important. I can tell you in terms of weather disasters and the like what I’ve gone through over the last 25 to 30 years is an entirely different experience than what my father went through prior to that in the 30 or 40 years when he was for the most part operating. The amount of weather events, significant negative weather events, has been increasing and we really need to address that.”

The Inflation Reduction Act will also fund data collection on carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions and provide loans and grants for clean energy development in rural areas.

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