Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference at Cornell University’s Guterman Greenhouse 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 Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature Shawna Black, Vice President for University Relations at Cornell University Joel Malina, Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ben Houlton, and professors from the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“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.”
“Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is proud to have nearly 150 years of partnership with New York state and its farm and food community,” said Benjamin Houlton, the college’s Ronald P. Lynch Dean. “I am delighted that Senator Gillibrand has recognized the value of agricultural innovations, both technology-driven and nature-based, in supporting the Inflation Reduction Act. These programs will help farmers adopt science-based environmental solutions through economic incentives.”
“Senator Gillibrand has always recognized the value that land grant universities like Cornell – through her strong support for agriculture research and extension – provide to our stakeholders in New York. Her work to include agriculture programs in the Inflation Reduction Act will help ensure that the tools and resources developed and tested at Cornell to address climate change in agriculture are adopted by farmers and in communities throughout the state,” said Joel M. Malina, Vice President for University Relations at Cornell.
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 biofuels.
- Tax credits with an estimated value of $2.946 billion to incentivize the domestic production of clean biofuels.