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Articles by Max Graham

Max Graham is a former Grist food and agriculture reporting fellow.

Featured Article

America’s farms don’t just run on corn and cattle. They also run on cash from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Every year, the USDA spends billions of dollars to keep farmers in business. It hands out money to balance fluctuations in crop prices; it provides loans for farmers who want to buy livestock or seeds; and it pays growers who lose crops to drought, floods, and other extreme weather.

The agency is also now giving money — including $20 billion that Congress earmarked two years ago in the Inflation Reduction Act — to farmers trying to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon in soil, a key part of the Biden administration’s goal to cut the 10 percent of the country’s emissions generated by agriculture. That windfall of climate-smart farm funding has been widely lauded by climate activists and researchers.

But exactly how the USDA spends that money is more complicated — and contentious — than it might appear, and not simply because Republicans in Congress have threatened to siphon the funds away. A new report from the Environmental Working... Read more

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