USDA seeking proposals for quantifying climate benefits of CRP

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USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced an initiative to quantify the benefits of Conservation Reserve Program contracts. “This multi-year effort will enable USDA to better target CRP toward climate outcomes and improve existing models and conservation planning tools while supporting USDA’s goal of putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change.”

FSA will invest $10 million through Monitoring, Assessment and Evaluation projects to measure and monitor the soil carbon sequestration and other climate and environmental benefits of conservation practices over the life of CRP contracts. USDA hopes this will help it “better target climate outcomes through CRP while gaining critical data to calibrate, validate and further improve quantification methods within existing models and tools.”

USDA says it is seeking proposals for projects to survey, sample and measure the climate benefits of land enrolled in the following CRP practice types over time:

  1. Predominately Perennial grass with legumes and shrubs, depending on the practice
  2. Tree
  3. Wetland, including both mineral and organic soils and both floodplain and non-floodplain wetlands

A project can cover one or more of the above practice types and should be for a three- to five-year term, with the potential for renewal. Projects should be a minimum of $1 million and not exceed $9 million, according to USDA. The department says applications from all types of organizations are welcome, and that applications from or in partnership with “Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU), Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCU) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) or organizations will be considered as part of the selection process.” The deadline for proposals is July 2, 2021.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has been working to expand CRP via higher rental rentals and other incentives—an effort that could distort the farmland market—as a way of advancing the Biden administration’s climate change agenda. CRP is capped at 25 million acres this fiscal year and that cap will rise gradually to 27 million acres by 2023. There are currently nearly 21 million acres enrolled in CRP.

 

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