What the Inflation Reduction Act could mean for soil health

The federal Inflation Reduction Act passed in August amid skyrocketing fuel and fertilizer prices as well as recent climate-fueled weather events including record-setting heat waves, historic flooding, and oppressive drought here in Montana. This legislation provides the most significant action on climate change mitigation in U.S. history, and it relies on agriculture playing a key role in addressing the climate crisis.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will receive nearly $20 billion to fund work that helps incentivize carbon-sequestering farming and ranching practices. NRCS/USDA programs that received this funding include: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program which works to increase practices like cover crops, prescribed grazing and forest stand improvement; the Regional Conservation Partnership Program which addresses farm, watershed and other natural resource concerns; the Agricultural Conservation Easement program; and the Conservation Stewardship Program.

Conservation plans are usually aimed at addressing water quality, soil erosion, biodiversity, pollinator habitat, carbon sequestration, and energy use. This funding provides an opportunity to incentivize producers to implement soil health practices across the state of Montana!

The Inflation Reduction Act also includes $4 billion in funding for drought relief efforts in the Western United States. Specifically, the funding will go towards projects in the “Reclamation States’’ including Montana. If these funds are implemented with producers in mind, it will bolster existing programs that encourage the adoption of soil health practices. All in all, this historic legislation provides a major boost to regenerative agriculture, ensuring a big step to mitigate climate change.

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