The Cajon Pass between Las Vegas and Los Angeles during the Blue Cut Fire on Aug. 17, 2016. (David McNew | Getty Images)
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House Agriculture Committee on Monday finished marking up its section of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.
The agriculture portion would provide funding for historically Black land grant colleges and investments in urban agriculture, along with boosting U.S. Department of Agriculture programs to address climate change threats in farming.
The $66 billion agriculture measure passed along party lines in a 27-24 vote. It will be combined with other sections of the massive reconciliation bill being written by other committees as Democrats undertake a major rewrite of U.S. social policy.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., said that it’s important for Congress to devote money to climate change prevention, and he pointed to the fires that are currently ravaging the West.
A good portion of the funds would be dedicated to climate change solutions and prevention.
“We’ve got to make sure that we invest in ways in which to protect and enhance our forest lands,” he said.
The measure would provide up to $40 billion in forestry programs to help combat forest fires on public and private lands. That includes up to $9 billion in forest restoration and resiliency grants.
Also in the bill is $190 million in scholarships for 1890s Land Grant Institutions, historically Black colleges established in 1890 in states including Ohio, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland, and Virginia.
The committee set aside more than $7 billion for general research, education, and development programs, “to advance the American food and agriculture system’s global competitiveness, innovation, infrastructure, food security, equity, and climate change resilience,” the committee said in a fact sheet.
The measure includes $1 billion in biofuel expansions and $400 million in loan relief for rural borrowers, a provision that Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, worked on.
“From investments in our rural businesses to key infrastructure funding to promote biofuels and other clean energy sources, this section of the Build Back Better Act will support Iowa’s communities and chart a path to a cleaner environment for both ourselves and our children,” Axne said in a statement.
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