STATEMENT: Senators Introduce Bill to Advance Soil Carbon Measurement in Agriculture

Washington, DC—Last week, Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the bipartisan Advancing Research on Agricultural Climate Impacts Act. This legislation would enable the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to lead in developing consistent, science-based, and standardized soil carbon measurement methodologies. It also directs the USDA to leverage existing programs, such as the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, Agriculture Research Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service, to develop new tools to better measure, monitor, report, and verify (MMRV) greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration activities and then analyze changes in these measures over time and across agricultural lands.

In addition, by directing the USDA to support on-farm demonstration projects through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and Conservation Innovation Grant On-Farm Trials, this legislation will help ensure that management systems and tools for greenhouse gas emission and carbon sequestration MMRV are cost-effective for producers. We urge Congress to support funding for improved tools, technologies, practices, and modeling that will help address the limits of soil carbon sequestration by passing this bill.

“We appreciate Senators Smith and Young for their leadership in advancing federal research to better understand soil carbon dynamics across agricultural lands,” said Dan Blaustein-Rejto, Director of Food & Agriculture for the Breakthrough Institute. “By catalyzing the development of new tools and predictive models to measure, monitor, report, and verify soil carbon, the Advancing Research on Agricultural Climate Impacts Act will enable USDA and the private sector to better direct funds to result in the most climate mitigation. Additional investments in large-scale data analysis and on-farm demonstration trials will also give U.S. producers greater insights to optimize regionally-relevant practices that sequester carbon, increase soil health, and improve agricultural productivity.”

Breakthrough is excited to see bipartisan support for this legislation and urges members of Congress in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to include these policies in the 2023 Farm Bill.