By Leah Douglas
(Reuters) – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack mentioned on Wednesday “the time has come” for American farmers to slash their greenhouse fuel emissions by making the most of newly introduced incentives designed to combat local weather change.
Vilsack’s Agriculture Department this week unveiled a raft of incentive-based applications for farmers to scale back emissions of potent greenhouse fuel methane, together with loans and grants for constructing or enhancing manure digesters, or transitioning to lower-emission manure administration practices like composting.
The applications had been a part of the White House’s broader methane plan introduced Tuesday to coincide with the worldwide local weather convention in Glasgow, Scotland. The plan targeted on powerful new proposed laws from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to crack down on methane from the oil and fuel business.
Agriculture contributes 9.6% to U.S. greenhouse fuel emissions, in accordance to EPA, and about 36% of methane emissions, principally from livestock.
“Agriculture will respond to this because they have historically responded to financial and market incentives,” Vilsack mentioned in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday. “They appreciate the time has come.”
Some advocacy teams have slammed the USDA method. They say cash for digesters, which seize methane to produce electrical energy or pure fuel, quantities to a subsidy for the most important farm polluters.
Ben Lilliston, director of rural methods and local weather change on the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, mentioned the plan would create “perverse incentives to produce more manure, and more water and air pollution for rural communities.”
Other critics blasted USDA for proposing voluntary applications as an alternative of actual laws just like the EPA guidelines for the oil business.
“If President Biden is serious about tackling methane, he needs to be serious about regulating industrial animal agriculture,” mentioned Chloë Waterman, senior program supervisor at Friends of the Earth, in an announcement.
Vilsack mentioned the company is balancing the necessity to scale back methane emissions whereas guaranteeing meat and dairy producers can meet world meals demand. He additionally mentioned the agriculture business is much less receptive to regulation than different industries.
“You find significant reluctance to regulation on the farm, but great acceptance of incentives,” he mentioned.
In addition to the incentives, USDA will acquire information on farm methane and conduct analysis on methane discount methods, like altering livestock feed to scale back animal emissions. It additionally introduced a $4 billion partnership with the United Arab Emirates to examine local weather adaptation, and a brand new collaboration with the European Union.
(Reporting by Leah Douglas; Editing by David Gregorio)