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USDA Announces Climate Change ‘Building Blocks’ Initiative
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Thursday announced a comprehensive approach to support farmers, ranchers and forest land owners in the response to climate change. The framework consists of 10 building blocks that span a range of technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage and generate clean renewable energy. According to the USDA fact sheet, the strategy focuses on “climate-smart practices designed for working production systems that provide multiple economic and environmental benefits in addition to supporting resilience to extreme weather, reduced emissions and increased carbon storage.”
American Soybean Association (ASA) Washington staff participated in a conference call with agricultural stakeholders, where USDA officials described the initiative. The USDA officials stressed that the initiative is voluntary, incentive-based and built around existing Farm Bill conservation and energy programs.
Through this comprehensive set of voluntary programs and initiatives spanning its programs, USDA expects to reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by over 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2e) per year – about 2 percent of economy-wide net greenhouse emissions – by 2025. That’s the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road, or offsetting the emissions produced by powering nearly 11 million homes last year.
In executing the new initiative announced Thursday, USDA will use authorities in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide incentives and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest land owners. Specifically, USDA will encourage actions that promote soil health, improve nutrient management, and conserve and enhance forest resources on private and public lands. In addition, USDA will redouble efforts to improve energy efficiency, develop renewable energy, and use biomass both as a liquid fuel and to contribute to heating, cooling and electric needs.
USDA’s strategy is made of these 10 building blocks.
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