Discussions in Washington, DC are underway for a new 5-year authorization of the Farm Bill, a massive piece of legislation that guides U.S. policy and support for agriculture nationwide. This latest version of the legislation presents opportunities for targeted investments and reforms that scale up climate smart agriculture that can mitigate climate and biodiversity challenges. It has great potential to aid algae and seaweed based agriculture.
The Algae Biomass Organization coordinated a number of valuable provisions in the previous Farm Bill, and is closely monitoring negotiations and proposals that can benefit our members this time around. Members involved in growing and harvesting algae and seaweeds, as well as using algae technologies to support agriculture activities in water treatment services, carbon management, bioproduct development and more should all be aware of how the Farm Bill can better position their activities.
Over the past several months, members of Congress have been submitting proposals to be included in the overall Farm Bill. Some of the key initiatives under discussion include:
Healthy Soils Healthy Climate Act
This act introduced for inclusion in the new Farm Bill, known as a marker bill, from Senator Ron Wyden (OR), and Congresswoman Andrea Salinas (OR) builds on a 2018 Farm Bill pilot program. It would secure funding for research, demonstration and adoption of innovations in farming practices that build crop resilience and enhance soil carbon. It would also provide research funding for the development of technologies and systems for measuring soil organic carbon levels before and after these practices. (data needed).
- Opportunities for algae: Those that sell biomass that improves soil health and captures carbon could find opportunities for funding deployment, but only if the final legislation allows for algae and seaweed applications.
Advanced Cutting Edge Agriculture Act
The Advancing Cutting Edge Agriculture Act (ACE Ag), a marker bill from Senator Michael Bennet Marshall (CO) and Congressmen Jimmy Panetta (CA-19) and Randy Feenstra (IA-4) would reauthorize and expand the Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AgARDA). This program focuses on supporting an advanced research program within USDA, much like the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E)
- Opportunities for algae: This initiative could support $50-$100 million for programs that improve soil health, organic matter and microbial activity, and possibly agricultural emissions reductions. The bill calls for an expanded research focus to include water conservation, greenhouse gas emissions and extreme weather resilience.
This marker led by Congressman Sean Casten (IL-06) and Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) would provide farmers who plant cover crops with a savings of $5 per acre off of their crop insurance bills.
- Opportunities for algae: This would strengthen the federal crop insurance program, which was amended to include algae in the previous Farm Bill, by offering voluntary financial incentives to farmers that use these risk reducing practices.
Join ABO’s Farm Bill Initiative
The 2023 Farm Bill is one of the most watched pieces of legislation on Capitol Hill, and ABO is ramping up its involvement by starting several new advisory committees to guide our community’s priorities.
Members of these advisory committees will be working with government relations representatives, a number of national coalitions, and directly with Congressional offices to make sure that the full potential of algae and seaweed to support agriculture is recognized in the next Farm Bill. Join the algae agriculture advisory committee! For questions or if you want to join this advisory committee, reach out to ABO’s interim executive director Jon Kallen at firstname.lastname@example.org.