Farm bill may expand climate-saving ‘agroforestry’

By Marc Heller | 05/09/2024 06:39 AM EDT

Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow’s framework promotes farming and tree-raising. A more modest proposal is emerging in the House.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) outside the Capitol earlier this month. Backers of "agroforestry" are tickled with potential provisions in the farm bill. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Farming that puts crops, trees and sometimes animals all on the same land — and cuts climate emissions in the process — stands to make gains in the next five-year farm bill.

Groups pressing for that practice, called agroforestry, praised the farm bill framework recently proposed by Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and said they’re looking to forthcoming legislation in the House to promote it, too. Indeed, the Republican chair of the House Agriculture Committee seems to be on board to some extent.

Advocates were “floored” by the number of agroforestry provisions Stabenow included in the framework, said Cristel Zoebisch, director of policy at Carbon180, a group promoting carbon-saving farming practices.


The provisions include increasing annual funding for the Agriculture Department’s national agroforestry research center, establishing at least one regional center and giving the practice a bigger role in the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to take land out of production for row crops.