U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., speaks in a virtual meeting with reporters on April 16, 2021.

Farmers would get a private-sector boost to their conservation work through a bill announced this morning by U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.

Farmer demand for USDA conservation programs consistently outstrips the available funding. Thompson’s bill would incentivize private companies to donate to these programs as a way to meet environmental commitments they have made.

“Producers are part of the solution, not part of the problem,” said Thompson, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee.

The SUSTAINS Act, part of a just-announced package of Republican bills to combat climate change, is an alternative, in part, to the government-led carbon credit plan that Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has floated.

Thompson said he’d rather bolster existing programs with a proven track record that are known to be accessible to farms of all scales. He also doesn’t think USDA needs to get involved in the market for ecosystem credits.

Other bills in the package would support tree planting, biochar production and forest management techniques. Thompson said he hopes to get Democratic buy-in and hold hearings on the legislation.