Inflation Reduction Act Will Be a Boon to Farmers and Landowners As Grants and Cost Share Programs Are Up for Grabs
January 19, 2023 in AFM News
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) allocates $20 billion for Farm Bill conservation programs. Roughly $8.5 billion goes toward the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service administers. Farmers and private landowners can use this money to reduce emissions and other resource concerns on farmland. One example is planting cover crops, such as radishes or rye. Cover crops have a variety of benefits, like trapping moisture in the soil and attracting pollinators. Another $3 billion has been allocated to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the largest conservation program in the United States. The CSP can help owners of working lands increase crop resiliency, improve grazing conditions, and reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. There is funding for two additional programs, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. AFM’s Farmland Services manager, Brandon DuRant, has helped clients secure funding from these programs. “To date, we have helped clients secure between $3-4 million, which has helped make significant improvements environmentally and financially for their operations. We were recently awarded a $120,000 contract with the NRCS in South Carolina, allowing us to further work with landowners across South Carolina to improve grazing lands. There are several qualifying criteria for these programs. If you are interested and want to learn more, AFM has a suite of services that can help landowners engage in the various conservation programs.”
Out West, EQIP funding has a different focus. Since the western region of the United States is prone to forest fires, EQIP can be utilized for disaster relief. Brian Vrablick, Region Manager in Spokane, Washington, says, “Forest health, wildfire prevention, and wildlife habitat are the key drivers of our projects.” AFM can help landowners with wildfire recovery and restoration projects in several ways.
Erosion control: Soil erosion can lead to lower yields, less productive soil, and drought stress.
Contour felling: Contour tree felling will intercept water running down a slope and reduce runoff and erosion. This process helps reestablish vegetation.
Grass seeding: Reseeding is necessary to restore habitats and grazing lands.
Tree planting: While nature is powerful enough to regenerate, planting some fire-resistant tree species can restore areas ravaged by fire
Our staff in the west are qualified to help landowners write Forest Management Plans and apply for financial assistance through EQIP.
Lastly, $550 million will be appropriated to competitive grants for non-federal forest landowners. The grants will be available under the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act. One branch will be dedicated $100 million to the Wood Innovation Grant Program. The Wood Innovation Grants provide funding for various grant recipients, from prefabricated mass timber building materials to renewable energy systems that run on wood chips. This program provides benefits for everyone, albeit indirectly. For instance, biochar (black carbon produced from biomass sources like wood chips, plant residues, etc.) facilities may purchase feedstock locally, making the market more robust and diverse. This benefits the forestry resources market and sequesters carbon in the process.