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RIPE100 policy proposal: $100/unit for stewardship, implementation costs after first year

Special September Newsletter:
All About the IRA and 2023 Farm Bill

The recent passage and signing of the Inflation Reeducation Act (IRA) will have major implications on climate, agriculture, the economy and more. Given the historic nature of this bill and the potential impacts on farmers, ranchers and the future of RIPE, we wanted to send a special update focused on our plans for the IRA and 2023 Farm Bill, and what you need to know about them as a producer and RIPE supporter.

4 Things Farmers and Ranchers Can Learn From the IRA’s $40B Investment in USDA

1. Piece of IRA’s $20B for Climate-Smart Ag Could Launch RIPE100

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) authorized $370 billion for climate-related efforts, including $40 billion for USDA, half of which is for payments to farmers for climate-smart agriculture. The default use of the funds is to supplement existing farm bill conservation programs — which predominantly offer cost-share payments — through 2026.

We applaud Congress for its investments in agricultural stewardship practices and acknowledge that new programs could not be created through the reconciliation process that added this funding. However, we propose that this funding be redirected to a new program that would offer producers a minimum payment above costs associated with conservation practice implementation, allowing producers to earn a reasonable return on their investment.

The potential to repurpose these funds gives RIPE a tremendous opportunity to shape them away from cost-share and toward the RIPE100 program for inclusion in the 2023 Farm Bill. Read more details of our call to Congress in a recent press release, picked up by more than 90 news outlets.

2. IRA Leaves Ag Producers at High Risk for Future Regulations on Climate, Water

The IRA continues to use the broken cost-share model of existing USDA programs, which leaves most producers to foot the bill for conservation efforts. That makes it something that cannot be widely expanded, so farmers and ranchers will continue to face the threat of climate regulation.

In addition, the IRA doesn’t offer livestock producers a meaningful opportunity to reduce methane. The only methane-specific provision is a relatively small pilot fund that removes the livestock allocation of EQIP funds and uses the cost-share model. Cost-share is particularly impractical for the high upfront costs of lagoon covers and other methane-reducing practices.

Finally, the climate-smart conservation practices identified by USDA do not include many water conservation practices. Given the increasing national concern around water shortages and quality, regulations on agricultural water conservation will continue to grow.

3. Funding for Ag Conservation Is Significant, If Producers Ask for It

Many farmers, ranchers and ag trade associations have been skeptical of RIPE’s message that producers could earn $100 per unit from new climate funds. Yet the passage of the IRA proves it’s possible. Congress just authorized $37 billion a year in new climate money, with an average annual fund of $1.8 billion for direct payments to producers for climate-smart practices.

However, funding relies on the cost-share model. Farmers and ranchers can ask for those funds to be used to provide a reasonable return on their conservation investments while laying the groundwork to secure future climate funds for additional profit opportunities.

Climate activists and some Democrats, including Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, are publicly expressing the need to do more on climate even after the IRA passage. Ag producers can shape future investments by helping to advance the RIPE100 proposal.

4. We Can Still Shape FACA’s Farm Bill Priorities, Which Could Transform IRA Funding to Benefit Producers

Producers can influence the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) — an important stakeholder group that includes the American Farm Bureau Federation, dozens of ag groups, and environmental groups — in its farm bill request. The group is finalizing its policy priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill this month, and those recommendations will likely shape the way the IRA funds are used.

If you are connected to any of FACA’s founding members or steering committee members, please encourage them to endorse RIPE. Contact us at TakeAction@RIPEroadmap.org for support. We can help you draft a brief email to encourage the advancement of the RIPE100 policy.

Want to do more to advance the RIPE100 policy proposal in the farm bill? Our volunteer toolkit can help! Learn how below.

How the RIPE Volunteer Toolkit Can Help You Advance RIPE100 in the Farm Bill

Stay connected with us on Facebook and Twitter — and be sure to tag us in your posts with #RIPE100 so we can reshare!