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NMPF Heralds Landmark New Climate-Smart Ag Investments in Build Back Better Act

November 1, 2021

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today lauded the inclusion of $27 billion in a once-in-a-generation funding boost for conservation programs – with an emphasis on climate smart agricultural practices — in the pending Build Back Better Act.

The package, spearheaded by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), will help dairy farmers advance their sustainability leadership by bolstering farm bill conservation programs in meaningful ways for dairy. Substantial new investments will provide important voluntary technical assistance to dairy farmers who undertake a variety of stewardship practices. The legislation also includes targeted new funding that emphasizes critical farm practices that yield significant environmental benefits for dairy, notably in feed management.

“Dairy farmers have long been proactive land and water stewards because they seize opportunities for innovation,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We are deeply grateful to Chairwoman Stabenow for her tireless leadership to secure game-changing conservation investments, with a focus on climate-smart practices. These investments will better position dairy farmers to proactively implement the dairy sector’s Net Zero Initiative and fulfill its 2050 environmental stewardship goals.”

Dairy farmers in 2020 committed in their Net Zero Initiative to become greenhouse gas neutral or better by 2050 and maximize water quality around the country.

Key wins for dairy among the climate-smart ag provisions of the Build Back Better Act include:

  • $9 billion in new funds for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which provides important technical assistance to dairy farmers, targeted toward stewardship practices that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • $25 million annually for Conservation Innovation Trials, with the new funding targeted toward initiatives that use feed and diet management to reduce enteric methane emissions, which can comprise roughly one-third of a dairy farm’s greenhouse gas footprint. NMPF is excited for this opportunity to amplify its focus on innovative feed additives and rations that reduce enteric emissions;
  • A new cover crop initiative to pay producers $25 per acre of established cover crop practices to reduce nutrient runoff and soil erosion; and
  • $7.5 billion in new funds for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which funds locally developed, targeted partnership projects, with emphasis on initiatives that incentivize or target reduced methane emissions.

Along with applauding the inclusion of climate-smart funding, NMPF expressed appreciation for Congress’s likely exclusion of tax-policy changes that could have discouraged inter-generational farm transfers.

NMPF and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) in August led a coalition of 12 agricultural and conservation organizations on a letter advocating for significant new funding for climate-smart agricultural practices. That letter also voiced major concerns with proposed changes to tax policy that would undermine the transfer of family farms from one generation to the next. NMPF is pleased that these tax proposals are now unlikely to move forward in Congress.

“We are grateful that Congress is likely to heed our call and put aside problematic tax proposals that if enacted would have harmed the future of family farming,” Mulhern said. “We thank the many members of Congress who have worked to ensure these concepts did not move forward.”