- Ranchers and livestock owners now qualify for funds to compost animal manure or take other steps to sustainably manage waste.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture said last week that it expanded practices eligible for climate-smart funding under the Inflation Reduction Act.
- More than $3 billion is available to producers for fiscal 2024. Newly-eligible practices include improving feed management, using compost-bedded pack barns and building covers for waste management facilities to capture biogas.
The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service saw record demand for its conservation and clean energy funding programs for 2023, noting late last month that there was "substantially more interest than funding available under the law."
The agency said it expanded the types of projects eligible for funding following feedback from conservation partners and producers. USDA also considered activities based on scientific literature that showed potential for climate benefits.
“This funding will be used to meet producer demand for our oversubscribed programs and maximize climate benefits across the country while also providing other important environmental benefits," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
Previously, use of anaerobic digesters was the only type of waste management practice eligible for funding. USDA noted that support for additional waste practices may only be provisional as the agency monitors whether there are quantitative benefits.
Beyond waste management, other practices added for funding include use of cover crops, brush management and energy efficient irrigation. USDA is also expanding areas eligible for funding under the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program.
"Ultimately, this will lead to economic opportunity for producers, more productive soil, cleaner water and air, healthier wildlife habitat and natural resource conservation for future generations,” Vilsack said.