Inflation Reduction Act contains funds for forestry

The bill would also fund agriculture and wildfire prevention

MADISON, Wis. – The huge tax, climate and medical insurance bill negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin and passed by the Senate contains some forestry funding measures, with the greatest funding coming in large increases in funding for existing agriculture conservation programs that support both farm and forestry measures.

A significant goal of the 755-page bill is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The bill is titled the Inflation Reduction Act, but any immediate impact on inflation has been debated by economists.

A one-page summary from the Senate Agriculture committee said these existing programs have been “oversubscribed by as much as 3 to 1.” The bill, if passed by the House and signed into law, would provide $8.45 billion in new funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), $3.25 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and $1.3 billion for “climate-based technical assistance”.

These programs support both farm and forest programs. In addition, the bill provides $5 billion to fund community efforts to combat the effects of wildfires through “climate smart forestry,” and $1.5 billion to support “urban and community forestry.”

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said passage of the bill means “Americans will see their energy costs go down while we tackle the urgent threats we face every day from the climate crisis.” She added, “We are equipping farmers, foresters, and rural communities with the necessary tools to be a part of the solution. At the same time, we are investing in good-paying clean energy jobs to grow small towns and rural economies.”

In contrast, the ranking Republican member of the committee, John Boozman (R-AR) said the bill represents a “bad precedent,” spending $40 billion on agriculture with no hearings on the bill and no input from any Republicans or most Democrats in the Senate.

The bill will raise $739 billion in taxes and lower the U.S. budget deficit by about $300 billion. The spending is a narrow sliver of what was originally proposed in the measure based on months of negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).

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