Climate Change and the Farm Bill: A Brief History – farmdoc daily – University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Climate Change

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 invested approximately $19 billion in farm bill conservation programs for conservation practices that address climate change (farmdoc daily, August 11, 2022).  In addition, USDA has announced nearly $3 billion for a climate-smart commodities partnership effort (USDA, September 14, 2022).  These investments for climate change and agriculture are historic.  The blending of climate change and farm bills is not, however, without precedent.  Title XXIV of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade (FACT) Act of 1990 was titled “Global Climate Change” (P.L. 101-624).  This article provides a brief historical review of the climate change title in the 1990 Farm Bill.
The background for inclusion of a climate change title in the 1990 Farm Bill centers on the historic 1988 drought.  The Illinois State Water Survey reported that the 1988-1989 drought was one of the worst droughts in the State up to that time.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the 1988 drought was widespread throughout the U.S. and Canada.  The drought’s damage was widespread.  USDA predicted substantial crop losses and President Reagan signed a $3.9 billion disaster relief bill for farmers in August of 1988.  The relief was among an estimated $20 billion spent to help farmers.  The relief included protecting 9 million acres as severe soil erosion and dust storms returned to drought-stressed areas.  1988 was likely the fourth worst drought on record at the time (following 1934, 1936, an …

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