Agriculture Secretary for the USA today laid out a comprehensive approach to partner with farmers and producers to address the threat of climate change. The new initiatives will build on the creation of the USDA’s Climate Hubs last year and will use voluntary, incentive based conservation, forestry and energy projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration and expand renewable energy production in the agricultural and forestry sectors.
The 10 building block for Climate Action in the US
Soil health: Improve soil resilience and increase productivity by promoting conservation tillage and no-till systems, planting cover crops, planting perennial forages, managing organic inputs and compost application, and alleviating compaction. USDA aims to increase no-till implementation from the current 67 million acres to over 100 million acres by 2025.
Nitrogen Stewardship: Focus on the right timing, type, placement and quantity of nutrients to reduce nitrous oxide emission and provide cost savings through efficient application.
Livestock Partnerships: Encourage broader deployment of anaerobic digesters, lagoon covers, composting and solids separators to reduce methane emissions from cattle, dairy and swine operations. USDA plans to support 500 new digesters over the next 10 years as well as expand the use of covers on 10 percent of anaerobic lagoons used in dairy cattle and pig operations.
Conservation of Sensitive Lands: Use the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) to reduce GHG emissions through riparian buffers, tree planting, and the conservation of wetlands and organic soils. By 2025, USDA aims to enrol 400,000 acres of CRP lands with high greenhouse gas benefits, protect 40,000 acres through easements, and gain additional benefits by transferring expiring CRP acres to permanent easements.
Grazing and Pasture lands: Support rotational grazing management, avoiding soil carbon loss through improvement management of forage, soils and grazing livestock. By 2025, USDA plans to support improved grazing management on an additional 4 million acres, for a total of 20 million acres.
Private Forest Growth and Retention Through the Forest Legacy Program and the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program, protect almost 1 million additional acres of working landscapes. Employ the Forest Stewardship Program to cover an average of 2.1 million acres annually (new or revised plans), in addition to the 26 million acres covered by active plans./p>
Stewardship of Federal Forests: Reforest areas damaged by wildfire, insects or disease, and restore forests to increase their resilience to those disturbances. USDA plans to reforest 5,000 additional post disturbance acres by 2025.
Promotion of Wood Products: Increase the use of wood as a building material, to store additional carbon in buildings while offsetting the use of energy from fossil fuels. USDA plans to expand the number of wood building projects supported through cooperative agreements with partners and technical assistance, in addition to research and market promotion for new, innovative wood building projects.
Urban Forests – Encourage tree planting in urban areas to reduce energy costs, storm water runoff, and urban heat island effects while increasing carbon sequestration, curb appeal, and property values. Working with partners, USDA plans to plant an average of 9,000 additional trees in urban areas per year through 2025.
Energy Generation and Efficiency: Promote renewable energy technologies and improve energy efficiency. Through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program, work with utilities to improve the efficiency of equipment and appliances. Using the Rural Energy for America Program and other programs, develop additional renewable energy, bioenergy and biofuel opportunities. Support the National On-Farm Energy Initiative to improve farm energy efficiency through cost- sharing and energy audits.
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