Breaking Down the Inflation Reduction Act

On Friday, August 12, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA). Earlier that week, the U.S. Senate passed the IRA by a vote of 51-50. President Joe Biden then signed the bill into law on Tuesday, August 16. NACD applauded the bill’s inclusion of historic investments to support conservation, improve resilience, and address climate change.

“NACD is pleased to see continued support from Congress and the administration in conservation program funding,” said NACD President Michael Crowder. “We applaud this investment in conservation and natural resource management, and we will continue to advocate for support for these programs that are critical to addressing climate change by improving the health of our soils, watersheds, and forests. We look forward to continuing our work with all members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, to bring voluntary conservation and natural resource management to the producers and landowners who benefit from these programs.”

The IRA includes approximately $18 billion for voluntary conservation programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) between Fiscal Years 2023 and 2026. The bill also prioritizes funding for projects supported by these programs that reduce, capture, or prevent greenhouse gas emissions. These investments include:

  • $8.45 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program
    • New funding is exempted from the requirement that at least 50 percent of payments support livestock operations.
    • The requirement for on-farm conservation trial funding is increased from $25 million to $50 million annually.
      • Prioritizes proposals that utilize diet and feed management to reduce methane emissions from livestock production.
  • $4.95 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program
    • New funding may be used to prioritize projects that leverage corporate supply chain sustainability commitments or utilize models that pay for outcomes from targeting methane and NOx emissions.
  • $3.25 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program
    • Prioritizes practices that directly improve soil carbon or reduce nitrogen.
  • $1.4 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

The IRA also includes $1 billion for conservation technical assistance, which allows NRCS and conservation districts across the country to help producers and land managers assess resources needs, develop conservation plans, and implement conservation practices. This funding will also support critical NRCS staffing needs. The bill also provides $300 million for NRCS to measure the impact of agricultural practices on greenhouse gas emissions and $100 million for the administrative costs of the agency.

The IRA also includes substantial investments to support conservation and wildfire mitigation efforts in our nations’ forests, including:

  • $1.8 billion for hazardous fuels reduction projects on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land within the wildland-urban interface to support activities such as tree thinning and undergrowth removal.
  • $200 million for vegetation management projects on USFS land.
  • $100 million to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental reviews on USFS land.
  • $50 million for the USFS to complete an inventory of old-growth and mature forests within the USFS system, and for the protection of those forests.

$2.2 billion for State and Private Forestry Conservation Programs, including:

  • $700 million for the Forest Legacy Program, which provides grants to states to encourage the protection of privately owned forests through conservation easements or land purchases.
  • $1.5 billion for the USFS’ Urban and Community Forestry Assistance program, which provides multiyear grants to state agencies, local governments, tribes, and nonprofits to plant and manage healthy trees.

$550 million for competitive grants under the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act Section 13A, to non-federal forest landowners, which includes:

  • $150 million for underserved foresters to invest in climate mitigation or forest resilience practices.
  • $150 million to support underserved foresters’ participation in emerging private markets for climate mitigation and forest resilience.
  • $100 million for small forest landowners (with fewer than 2,500 acres) to participate in emerging private markets for climate mitigation and forest resilience.
  • $50 million for states and other entities to help private forestland owners implement forest practices that increase carbon sequestration.
  • $100 million for grants under the wood innovation grant program to reduce hazardous fuels.

NACD is excited to begin working with our agency partners and members to help districts use this funding to support on-the-ground conservation in communities across the country. In the coming weeks, NACD’s Government Affairs team will be releasing a series of blog posts detailing the conservation provisions in the IRA and sharing opportunities for districts engage. Subscribe to our eResource newsletter to be informed when these are published.

Tags: government affairs

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