Tag Archives: climate smart agriculture

ICYMI: Week of Climate Action from the Biden-⁠Harris Administration

The White House Briefing Room

President Biden’s economic plan is building a clean energy future in America that is creating good-paying jobs, lowering energy costs, and tackling the climate crisis. On Tuesday, President Biden welcomed thousands of guests to the White House to celebrate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act—the most aggressive action the United States has taken to combat climate change, while advancing environmental justice and saving families money. On Wednesday, he toured the Detroit Auto Show to celebrate the American electric vehicle manufacturing boom spurred by his economic plan. Throughout the week, the Biden-Harris Administration charged forward with major executive actions across sectors to tackle the climate crisis: Continue reading here to learn more about these initiatives and enjoy related news stories.

Referenced Resource: CleanEnergy.gov
Department of Energy Photo

Vilsack: America’s voluntary approach to agriculture is better than Europe’s mandates

By Jared Strong, Iowa Capital Dispatch

BOONE, Iowa — The more than $1 billion the federal government is devoting to voluntary efforts to reduce agriculture’s adverse effects on the environment is a better long-term strategy than mandating new rules for farmers, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.

While state and federal officials in the United States have tended to avoid implementing rules that might force farmers to radically change their long-held practices, the European Union has specific requirements about crop rotations, permanent pastures and the use of buffer strips and other conservation practices that improve soil quality. Continue reading here.

Also written by Jared Strong: USDA plans ‘historic’ funding to help struggling farmers and develop new ag leaders, Iowa Capital Dispatch

FROM THE NEBRASKA EXAMINER 

MORE ON HIGH-SPEED-INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE 

Treasury Announces Five Additional Capital Projects Fund Awards to Increase Access to Affordable, High-Speed Internet

Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Arkansas are approved to receive approximately $408 million under the American Rescue Plan and will connect more than 90,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet

INFLATION REDUCTION ACT BENEFITS EVERYONE

Republicans voted ‘no’ on the climate bill. Their states will get billions of dollars from it anyway, by Ella Nilsen, CNN

More than $370 billion of the law will go to tax credits for
 clean electricity, vehicles and energy efficient appliances. And that money will trickle down to Democrat- and Republican-controlled states alike, said Bob Keefe, executive director of nonpartisan clean energy group E2. “It’s going to be harder for red states to say clean energy jobs are bogus and that it’s something for California when it’s something that’s happening in their backyards,” Keefe told CNN.

The law goes far beyond financing for solar and wind energy. There’s also money for hydrogen fuel and funds to incentivize power plants to capture their planet-warming emissions before they hit the air. It also contains billions of dollars to fund a new program that will crack down on the fossil fuel industry’s methane emissions — a powerful greenhouse gas that scientists say must be controlled.

FROM FARM PROGRESS

Project looks to measure carbon absorption, emissions daily: Study examines how grazing livestock influences carbon, water and biodiversity.

Climate change has brought much scrutiny on the beef industry. But is it justified? Scientists have been studying grazing management and its impact on ecological function, and “there is evidence to suggest, if it’s well managed, cattle can be very edifying to land and improve its function versus deteriorating or extracting,” says Jason Rowntree, the C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture in the Michigan State University Department of Animal Science. “But the science is pretty isolated in terms of geography.”

How the climate deal could help farmers aid the environment

By Michael Phillis, Associated Press, PBS News Hour

The funding would expand programs favored by both environmental groups and the agricultural sector, said Ben Thomas, who focuses on agriculture at the Environmental Defense Fund. “They are voluntary, they are incentive-based, they get results in terms of implementing conservation practices on working lands,” said Thomas. “It’s great to see.”

Thomas said historically, the agricultural sector has not aggressively tackled its contribution to climate change, but that hesitation has shifted in recent years and more money will accelerate progress. There’s a lot of potential, he said. Read more here.

USDA NEWS RELEASE

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Inflation Reduction Act

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2022 – “President Biden and Congress have taken an important, historic step towards easing the burden of inflation on the American public and meeting the moment on climate. If passed, the Inflation Reduction Act will have a meaningful impact on the rural and agriculture communities we serve at The Department of Agriculture.

“Agriculture has long been at the forefront of our fight against climate change. From climate-smart agriculture, to supporting healthy forests and conservation, to tax credits, to biofuels, infrastructure and beyond, this agreement provides USDA with significant additional resources to continue to lead the charge.

USDA CLIMATE ACTION PLAN 

USDA Action Plan For Climate Adaptation And Resilience, August 2021


This Action Plan for Climate Adaptation and Resilience outlines how USDA will provide relevant information, tools, and resources to its stakeholders and target programs and activities to increase resilience to climate impacts. USDA will prioritize equity, promote environmental justice through a focus on healthy communities, and target adaptation actions with co-benefits for climate mitigation, conservation, and sustainability.
– USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack


ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Climate spending in new reconciliation deal a ‘turning point’ for the U.S., supporters say, by Jacob Fischler, Nebraska Examiner
Environmental advocates largely praised the climate provisions in Senate Democrats’ massive taxes, health care and energy bill released Wednesday night, saying even with provisions to help the fossil fuel industry, the measure represents a historic step toward addressing the climate crisis. The 725-page bill — made public mere hours after U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced a surprise deal — includes $369 billion over 10 years in tax credits and spending for renewable energy.

Reconciliation bill includes ag conservation programs, The Fence Post
Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced that there will be a nearly $40 billion investment in agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to fight inflation and lower costs for the American people through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

Senate Deal Boosts Climate-Smart Ag, Progressive Farmer
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) would see nearly $1.8 billion in funding. Rural renewable energy loans would also be expanded as well. Rural electric cooperatives would see $9.7 billion to help build out renewable energy development as well. “This bill creates direct incentives for co-ops to bolster investments in carbon capture, grid modernization, renewables, battery storage and other energy technologies,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Tax incentives would expand wind, solar and other renewable energy through 10 years of tax credits.

Links to Resources

FEATURED NEBRASKA FARM USING RENEWABLE ENERGY

Pork Producer Uses Solar Power Technology To Improve Environment And Operation, Brownfield Ag News

A Northeast Nebraska pork producer is using renewable energy to promote sustainable agriculture and offset energy consumption on his farm. He says he received a 26 percent tax credit on the project and it has a 7 to 8 year payoff period.

USDA Launches Pilot Program to Deploy Renewable Energy Infrastructure to People in Rural Towns

USDA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 19, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is making up to $10 million available to help people living in rural towns develop community renewable energy projects that will help them cut their energy costs and contribute to the nationwide effort to reduce pollution that contributes to climate change. These funds will be targeted to help people who live in communities that have been historically underinvested and disinvested.

USDA is making the funds available through the new Rural Energy Pilot Program to help the people of rural America build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before. Through this program, USDA is supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making environmental justice a part of every agency’s mission to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Highlights Key Work in 2021 to Combat Climate Change, USDA News Release, January 18, 2022

“Climate change threatens our food security, safety, and the environment we all depend on, but USDA is taking action to respond,” said Vilsack. “Working closely alongside our partners and those we serve, we are conserving precious natural resources, supporting climate smart forestry and agriculture, helping agricultural producers make their operations more climate friendly and resilient to climate change, and protecting communities from wildfire.”

USDA Resource: Climate Solutions

The states that produce the most renewable energy

By Commodity.com, LatticePublishing.com, La Crosse Tribune

To determine the states producing the most renewable energy, researchers at Commodity.com used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to calculate the percentage of total electricity generated from renewable sources. Renewable energy sources include: wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric. In the event of a tie, the state with the greater five-year growth in renewable electricity production, between 2015 and 2020, was ranked higher. Here are the states that produce the most renewable energy.

Nebraska’s Rank: 15

  • Percentage of electricity generated from renewables: 28.9%
  • 5-year change in renewable electricity production: +115.7%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 10,648,740
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

Read more here.

See utility-scale wind and solar projects under development in our state at these Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy resources:

Additional Recommended Reading: FACT SHEET: President Biden Sets 2030 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Target Aimed at Creating Good-Paying Union Jobs and Securing U.S. Leadership on Clean Energy Technologies, The White House Briefing Room

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS

UPCOMING OPPD WORKSHOPS

Pathways to Decarbonization WebEx Workshops 5 & 6
Pre-registration is encouraged to receive email reminders and Outlook calendar invites. The workshops are technical in nature and are designed to build from one another. It is highly recommended to watch previously recorded workshops before attending the upcoming ones. A summary video of past workshops is also available. 

  • Workshop 5: Initial Results
    Wednesday, October 27, 4-6 p.m.
  • Workshop 6: Final Results
    Thursday, December 9, 4-6 p.m.

Click here to learn more and pre-register for both.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FERC nominee Phillips uses 3-legged stool analogy in outlining regulatory approach to senators, Utility Dive

Having [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominee Willie Phillips Jr.], a Democrat, at FERC could help the agency avoid deadlocks on pending issues such as transmission reformsnatural gas infrastructure reviews and the role aggregated demand response can play in wholesale markets. “FERC is at its best with a full complement of commissioners,” FERC Chairman Richard Glick said Tuesday on Twitter.

Previously Posted: Biden’s FERC nominee could pave the way for the administration’s massive clean energy agenda, Canary Media 

CLIMATE POSITIVE BUSINESSES

Panera bakes plan to go climate positive, GreenBiz Group


On Wednesday, fast-casual food chain Panera Bread announced that it plans to work towards a climate-positive business model by 2050. This means Panera will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits each year. Climate positive suggests that it will go a step beyond the popular net-zero carbon emissions movement that has taken the business world by storm over the past two years with commitments from UnileverNestleVerizon and many others.

What to know about conservation compliance

By Erin Herbold-Swalwell, Farm Progress

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in his address at the 2021 Commodity Classic, said that work on “climate-smart ag” should begin before the next farm bill. Proposed increases in funding of the Conservation Reserve Program and an increased emphasis on carbon credits and carbon banks, renewable energy, and other environmental matters bring different opportunities for farm families, but also remind us that we need to understand the rules of enrollment in USDA programs. Read more here.

USDA Conservation Programs

The USDA offers voluntary, incentive-based conservation opportunities to landowners through local field offices in nearly every county of the nation. USDA helped landowners develop conservation plans and enrolled a record number of acres of private working lands in conservation programs, working with more than 500,000 farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that clean the air we breathe, conserve and clean the water we drink, prevent soil erosion and create and protect wildlife habitat. USDA support – leveraged with historic outside investments – helped support producer incomes and reward them for their good work.

USDA Resources

Nebraska News

Farmers express interest in possible carbon reduction methods, by Jerry Guenther, Norfolk Daily News

More USDA Resources

Center for Agricultural Profitability

The interdisciplinary Center for Agricultural Profitabilitywhich was approved March 11, 2021, facilitates faculty research, conducts outreach related to agricultural profitability and trains undergraduate and graduate students — all to support informed decision-making in agriculture through applied research and education.

Center for Agricultural Profitability Webinars – Archived & Upcoming

Fortenberry scores additional federal funding for USDA center at UNL

By Don Walton, Lincoln Journal Star

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday gave its approval to an additional $20 million appropriation for construction of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture research center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The new recommended funding follows on the heels of an earlier allocation of $11.2 million for planning and design of the multi-year project. If full funding for a new federal ag research center ultimately is acquired, that would signal the end of a long quest for a USDA presence at Nebraska Innovation Campus that began more than a decade ago.  Continue reading here

MORE UNL NEWS & UPCOMING WEBINARS

IANR launches Center for Agricultural Profitabilityby Ryan Evans | Center for Agricultural Profitability, Nebraska Today

The new Center for Agricultural Profitability in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources began operating June 28 with the unveiling of a new website and slate of informational events. For more on the Center for Agricultural Profitability, including registration for its free webinar series and access to its decision tools, articles and other resources, click here.

Center for Agricultural Profitability Webinars
July 8: 
Conservation Program Opportunities for Producers and Landowners
July 15: Business & Financial IQ – The Difference Maker

Is Solar Energy an Option for Your Farm?

By Taylor Leach, Agweb, Powered By The Farm Journal

During the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin 2021 Business Conference, Adam Wehling, Dean of Agriculture, Energy and Transportation at Chippewa Valley Technical College, spoke on how to easily incorporate a solar energy system onto your ag operation. According to Wehling, these systems can be easily integrated into your existing facilities, can improve the efficiency of the systems you currently have and can reduce your overall energy cost. Factors to Consider: Continue reading here.

Photo: Don Gasper’s Farm Near Lindsay, Nebraska. See Solar Examples for more solar projects on local farms. 

SOLAR WATER PUMPS

An equitable and reliable solar power grid for farmers, by Praveen Jain, IEEE Medal in Power Engineering recipient, Solar Power World

Born in rural India and being at the global forefront of technology over the past 40 years, I can say with certainty that farmers in many countries are not seeing the true benefits of solar power. Possibly the biggest and best benefit of solar power for farmers is solar water pumps used for irrigation. Powered by sunlight that is harvested through photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar pumps boost crop yield, promote efficient water use and reduce power consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Off-season, these solar installations can feed power to the local grid, providing extra income for farmers.

REGENERATIVE FARMING

U.S. FARMERS & RANCHERS IN ACTION REPORT

Transformative Investment in Climate-Smart Agriculture Unlocking the potential of our soils to help the U.S. achieve a net-zero economy

This report focuses on six established practices: 1) no-till/reduced tillage with retained residues, 2) cover crops, 3) crop rotation, 4) compost application 5) managed grazing, and 6) integrated crop and livestock systems—all of which improve soil health, sequester carbon and produce numerous co-benefits such as reduced erosion, increased water infiltration, and economic and environmental resiliency. With technology and financial innovation targeted at specific practice adoption barriers, these benefits will accrue on the farm, throughout rural America and the agriculture value chain, and the nation as a whole.

PACE

Spotlight on PACE: PACE Projects From Downtown Redevelopments to Dairy Farms,  National Law Review

Before taking a look at some of the ways the market has used PACE over the last few years, here’s a synopsis of just what exactly PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is.

Links to PACE Resources

 

 

 

Nebraska passed PACE-enabling legislation in 2016.

INNOVATIVE VIRGINIA PROGRAM

In Virginia, solar ‘barn raisings’ bring power to families in need, by Elizabeth McGowan, Energy News Network

A pair of Shenandoah Valley nonprofits have launched a fund to cover the upfront cost of outfitting Habitat for Humanity homes with photovoltaic panels that help put a dent in homeowners’ utility bills.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST