The Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law on August 16th of this year and included in it is billions in funding for programs that will affect farmers. These can be broken down into two categories: financial assistance and conservation.
Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act provides $3.1 billion for USDA to provide relief for distressed borrowers with certain Farm Service Agency (FSA) direct and guaranteed loans and to expedite assistance for those whose agricultural operations are at financial risk. USDA has allocated up to $1.3 billion for initial steps to help distressed borrowers, which are underway now. This includes both automatic and case-by-case assistance, which USDA announced on October 18, 2022. Meanwhile, Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act provides $2.2 billion in financial assistance for farmers who have experienced discrimination in USDA’s farm lending programs.
Approximately $20 billion of Inflation Reduction Act funds will support USDA’s conservation programs within the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This includes:
$8.45 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program
$4.95 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program
$3.25 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program
$1.4 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
$1 billion for the Conservation Technical Assistance Program
These are oversubscribed programs that are well known to farmers and ranchers. This additional investment is meant to help farmers and ranchers implement expanded conservation practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase storage of carbon in their soil and trees.
The Inflation Reduction Act also allocates $4 billion over the next four years for drought reduction via bureau of reclamation domestic water supply projects. In these projects, priority is given to the Colorado River Basin where funding will likely go to voluntary following programs that will pay farmers to fallow their fields saving water and reducing the burden on Lake Mead and the basin as a whole which has been greatly affected by drought in recent years. A portion of these funds will go to ecosystem and habitat restoration projects to address issues directly caused by drought in a river basin or inland water body.