Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference at Pawelski Farms in Orange County to discuss rural development and small farmer debt relief provisions in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act. The historic bill includes $3.1 billion in economic relief for struggling farms and billions more in federal funding to help farmers implement climate-smart agricultural practices and allow rural communities to transition to clean energy. Gillibrand was joined by Chris Pawelski, owner of Pawelski Farms and a fourth generation vegetable farmer, and Pastor Hugh Farrish, a faith leader at Bowen Memorial Baptist Church and a local farmer.
“We cannot solve the climate crisis without the support of our farmers and agricultural producers,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Inflation Reduction Act will provide billions in federal funding to help ensure that farmers who want to transition to more environmentally friendly practices have the resources and support they need to do so. This bill will drastically cut emissions, keep our water clean, protect wildlife, and preserve our forests. It will provide billions in economic relief to help struggling farmers get back on their feet and allow agricultural producers and small businesses to make the switch to green energy. The IRA is a historic investment in our rural communities and I am proud to have fought for its passage. I’ll keep working to bring federal funds to our Upstate communities and pass legislation to protect our planet.”
“When I first made this proposal to Senator Gillibrand’s staff in late 2019 our farm was looking at a bleak situation of loan payments we couldn’t meet with no opportunities to make improvements to our farm. Removing this crushing debt will help us to continue to supply our neighbors with nutritious, healthy local food, which supports the local economy and a healthy lifestyle. It is a godsend and a game changer and for once it is policy that targets aid to smaller farms. I have been engaging in grassroots public policy work on farming issues for over 25 years but great ideas mean nothing if there aren’t concerned and dedicated officials like Senator Gillibrand and staff that are committed to sound public policy and hard work to make a difference. It’s both a true pleasure and privilege to work with her and her staff. Farmers, especially small family farmers, locally, in NYS, and across the country are very fortunate to have her and her staff fighting in our behalf. They truly make a difference,” said Chris Pawelski, owner of Pawelski Farms and a fourth generation vegetable farmer.
The IRA provides $3.1 billion in loan modifications and economic relief for economically distressed farmers and unlocks additional funding to provide land access grants and loans, scholarships, and other assistance to underserved farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. This funding includes an additional $2.2 billion for farmers who have previously experienced discrimination in USDA lending programs
The bill also expands the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s existing voluntary land conservation programs, allowing them to provide support to more farmers as they adopt environmentally friendly land management practices. The bill includes:
- $18.05 billion in increased funding for USDA voluntary conservation programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect wetlands, improve water and air quality, and restore wildlife habitat.
- $1.3 billion in funding to collect data on carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions, provide conservation technical assistance and information related to climate smart agriculture and forestry, and carry out climate change adaptation and mitigation activities through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The IRA also makes historic investments in clean energy development in rural communities. It includes:
- $2 billion to provide loans and grants to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems.
- $500 million for grants to help transportation fueling and distribution facilities install, retrofit, or upgrade fuel dispensers, pumps, and other equipment for ethanol and biodiesel blends, providing a more environmentally friendly fuel choice while also supporting farmers.
- $297 million in grants to fund domestic projects that produce, transport, blend, or store sustainable aviation fuel, or develop low-emission aviation technologies.
- Tax credits with an estimated value of $49 million to encourage the use of sustainable aviation fuels.
- Incentives with an estimated value of $5.625 billion for biodiesel, renewable diesel, alternative fuels, and second-generation biofuel.
- Tax credis with an estimated value of $2.946 billion to incentivize the domestic production of clean biofuels.