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USDA seeks public input on climate-smart practices for biofuel feedstocks

This initiative aims to establish voluntary standards for biofuel feedstocks.

Corn Growing In Row

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has initiated a Request for Information (RFI) to gather insights from the public regarding the quantification, reporting, and verification of the impact of climate-smart farming practices on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with U.S.-grown biofuel feedstock crops.

Objectives of the RFI

The RFI aims to establish voluntary standards for biofuel feedstocks grown with practices that mitigate GHG emissions and/or sequester soil carbon. These standards, authorized by section 2709 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, are designed to be considered in international, national, or state clean transportation fuel policies, with the objective of further incentivizing climate-smart biofuel feedstock crops.

The initiative underscores the acknowledgment that growing crops as biofuel feedstocks contributes to GHG emissions, and that employing climate-smart practices, such as cover crops or no-till farming, can mitigate on-farm GHG emissions. Presently, clean fuel transportation policies do not differentiate between conventional practices and climate-smart practices in crop cultivation.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasized that creating opportunities for biofuels policies to reflect climate-smart farming practices can open new markets for American producers and incentivize greater GHG emissions reductions. This, in turn, can bring economic benefits to rural and farm communities while contributing to the fight against climate change.

Feedback and Public Participation

The RFI, which will be published in the Federal Register on June 27, 2024, seeks feedback on various aspects, including biofuel feedstock crops and practices for USDA's analysis, scientific data for quantifying GHG emissions outcomes, records and documentation for verifying practice adoption, feedstock traceability throughout the supply chain, and third-party verification of practice adoption and maintenance.

Interested parties can submit comments during the 30-day public comment period, starting from June 27 and ending on July 26, 2024.

The USDA's endeavor to gather public input reflects a commitment to fostering sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture while harnessing the potential of biofuels to drive environmental benefits and support rural economies.

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