Article: Written by Fischer, Bart L., and Joe Outlaw. AFPC
In a recent report by the Agricultural & Food Policy Center (AFPC), we provided an overview of the agricultural provisions included in the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022. The IRA was a Senate-led compromise that broke the months-long logjam over the Build Back Better (BBB) Act that had been stalled in the Senate. As noted in Figure 1, the funding for agriculture in the IRA was less than half of what had been proposed in the BBB.
As noted in Figure 1, roughly half of the funding for agriculture goes to conservation. Specifically, the IRA provides an additional $8.45 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), $3.25 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), $1.4 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), $4.95 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), $1 billion for Conservation Technical Assistance, and $300 million for USDA to collect “field-based data” to quantify carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. Importantly, beyond the temporary funding increases, the authorizations for all of these programs – including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) – were extended through fiscal year 2031.
The IRA also provided $3.1 billion for loan relief to borrowers with “at-risk agricultural operations” and almost $3 billion in assistance and support for “underserved farmers, ranchers, and foresters,” of which $2.2 billion is for financial assistance – including the cost of any financial assistance – to producers determined to have experienced discrimination prior to January 1, 2021, in any USDA farm lending programs. As noted in a recent Southern Ag Today article, initial versions of the IRA had left out debt relief, but the version that was signed into law ultimately addressed the issue.
Finally, the IRA provided over $13 billion for rural development programs – most of which is for rural electric cooperative loans – and almost $5 billion for forestry-related provisions.
We are frequently asked about the impact that this will have on the next farm bill. While one can argue that an additional infusion for farm bill conservation programs is helpful, it is important to note that the additional funding dries up in fiscal year 2026, which will likely coincide with the mid-point of the next farm bill. This undoubtedly will complicate what are already guaranteed to be complicated farm bill deliberations next year.
Figure 1. Comparing Estimated Outlays for Agriculture under the Build Back Better (BBB) Act and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), FY2022-31.