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USDA’s Climate Smart Easements Advance 30×30

by | Mar 28, 2024 | 30x30, Conservation Easements, Liberty Matters | 0 comments

USDA’s Climate Smart Easements Advance 30×30 

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on March 13, 2024, they will invest $138 million in 138 “climate-smart conservation easements” with Inflation Reduction Act funding.

There is a deceptive “bait and switch” at play here.  The programs landowners will be signing up for have a new purpose, buried deep inside the language of the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Democrats in 2022. The program’s new purposes are to control agriculture, food supplies and the land.

USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is promoting these programs as “climate-smart systems” to mitigate climate-change and claim it is to “safeguard the future of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural communities who depend on and sustain the land as a way of life, especially under a changing climate.”

However, this is the same administration who is all in on promoting the climate crisis narrative naming agriculture as the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas. They find livestock grazing to be a primary contributor and have been aggressively moving more of our agriculture lands under the permanent protection of the 30×30 agenda by enticing landowners to voluntarily enroll their lands in conservation programs.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) added an additional $19.5 billion dollars to industry approved conservation programs landowners have been using since 1985. They kept the names of the programs the same, but then changed the statutory purpose for the funds, altering what landowners were committing to carrying out.

Few landowners are aware of the change. You won’t find it highlighted in the USDA publications or find mention of it in any of the agency literature. You must read the IRA language directly to catch the “bait and switch.”

For example, the 138 climate-smart conservation easements the USDA recently announced fall under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

Originally, this program was established in the Food Safety Act of 1985 in Sec. 1265(b). The purpose for the program is to “protect the agricultural use and future viability, and related conservation values, of eligible land…” and “protect grazing uses and related conservation values by restoring or conserving eligible land.”

Those ACEP’s funded by the IRA now have a new purpose: “…prioritize projects and activities that mitigate or address climate change through the management of agricultural production, including by reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.” (IRA, HR 5376 117th Congress)

In other words, the IRA legislation flipped the purpose of the ACEP program from ensuring the producers’ agriculture viability to giving the federal government control over agricultural production.

The IRA-funded conservation contracts must be managed to mitigate climate change at the expense of food production. Whether or not a landowner is meeting this requirement will be determined by the federal government, which retains the right of enforcement through the federal easement, in perpetuity.

They are selling the program as “climate-smart” conservation and are spending billions to convince landowners to voluntarily sign up. The marketing is slick, and the programs are endorsed by trusted agriculture organizations. It is easy to see how landowners could be drawn in. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack bragged about Biden’s Climate-Smart easements saying:

“President Biden’s historic Inflation Reduction Act is enabling us to get a record amount of conservation on the ground, including through conservation easements, which give farmers and ranchers the tools they need to protect sensitive landscapes, like wetlands and grasslands, as well as prime farmland. …While we welcome these new easements, we have also made improvements to the program to make it work better and faster for agricultural producers and our conservation partners.” 

What they and their environmental “conservation partners” view as “improvements” will lead to the federal control of our food supply, elimination of the consumer-driven marketplace, and direct control of the land.

The Inflation Reduction Act funded Biden’s green agenda with a total of $19.5 billion, including $1.4 billion for ACEP, available over several years for climate-smart agriculture and forestry mitigation activities through the NRCS.

The press release states: “NRCS began implementing the Inflation Reduction Act in Fiscal Year 2023, which included $2.8 billion in conservation investments, more than any year in the agency’s 89-year history.”

And they claim to be making it easier to sign up under the ACEP program by “streamlining ACEP appraisals, land surveys and certifying eligible entities” to help NRCS enroll as many producers into agricultural easements as possible. They have partnered with environmental groups such as Ducks Unlimited, who has hired 10 easement acquisition specialists to assist NRCS.

The money is enticing. The assurances are convincing. But landowners must beware and be discerning. The IRA funded conservation programs are one more step towards the consolidation of land and power from the people to unelected globalists. 

For a deeper dive into this issue, read ASL’s IRA Issue Brief.

To learn more about the dangers of Conservation Easements, download ASL’s “Conservation Easement or Servitude?” guide.

You can read the USDAs IRA Funding Press Release here.