Growing Returns

Why food companies must act now to protect public funding for climate-smart agriculture

A low sun shining over a brown farm field.

The reauthorization of the farm bill, which offers critical funding to support farmers and food businesses, is currently being debated in Congress. This is a crucial moment to support farmers and businesses—and major food companies need to make sure they take advantage of it.

What is at stake? Billions of dollars in funding intended to help American farmers adopt innovative practices and protect their businesses from climate-related disasters. If done right, food companies will see increased farmer engagement in climate-smart agriculture, supporting farmers in remaining competitive and in participating in new markets as consumer trends shift to more sustainably produced products.

Food companies can use their voice in Washington to safeguard this essential funding for mitigating agricultural emissions and protecting food supply chains. Contact us to learn more.

How this impacts companies

The farm bill has advanced emissions mitigation and landscape resilience through voluntary on-farm conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentive Program and Conservation Stewardship Program. Boosted significantly by the IRA, which allocated nearly $20 billion specifically for adopting climate-smart agricultural practices, these widely embraced and oversubscribed programs are garnering even more interest from farmers.

While USDA conservation programs largely provide resources and assistance directly to farmers, these investments can be felt by food companies as they:

  • Enhance supply chain resilience: As farmers and ranchers already grapple with extreme heat, drought, and other extreme weather events, conservation programs that increase the resilience of U.S. farms will help stabilize supplies of agricultural ingredients that serve as the base of the food supply chain.
  • Create public-private partnership opportunities: USDA provides funding opportunities for food companies and other stakeholders to partner with them to address resource concerns in local supply sheds through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The IRA provided an additional $4.95 billion for RCPP.
  • Establish standardized climate-focused agriculture supplier practices: USDA’s work on climate-smart agricultural practices sets a credible baseline for companies to start from when working within their supply chain. This gives consumers confidence about claims made by companies and creates more predictable supplier standards for businesses.

What’s at risk

This injection of funds into popular conservation initiatives has the potential to significantly enhance the resilience of farms, rural communities, and food companies’ supply chains, while also mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events and protecting critical natural resources.

However, some lawmakers are contemplating removing the requirements that funding be spent on climate-specific conservation practices within the farm bill. Such a move threatens crucial programs that support farmers in corporate supply chains who are reducing emissions and improving resilience, which is why it’s important for companies to speak up now.

For more information on how your company can work with EDF to protect this funding, please contact Katie Anderson, EDF’s Senior Director of Business, Food and Forests.


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