Important Changes to Conservation Programs

May 31, 2024


Landon Van Dyke
Conservation Agronomist

 

What You Need to Know About Truterra and 45Z

In the past month, there have been some big changes to upcoming conservation programs. All of which are very good opportunities for farmers implementing conservation practices. The 45Z biofuel changes still have more time to develop and be finalized, while the Truterra® programs are set and will be open for enrollment summer.
 
40B Sustainable Aviation Fuel Tax Credit Changes and the Future for 45Z Biofuels Tax Credit
The Treasury Department released an update April 30th on 40B, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), the sister program to 45Z. While 45Z didn’t change, it’s widely believed that 45Z will be similar to 40B. With that said, let’s go over the highlights of the changes.
 
First the United States Department of Energy’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model was given the green light to be used for lifecycle analysis of SAF. This is good because the other model (CORSIA) is not friendly to agriculture.
 
Next, the indirect land use penalty was held the same compared to a forecast of it being increased. This will help keep CI scores lower (a lower score is better). The practices to qualify are no/strip-till, cover crops and using an Enhanced Efficiency Nitrogen Fertilizer (EENF) on at least 50 percent of nitrogen. It’s a check-the-box program and all three must be done for 40B. This is one item that will likely change when 45Z is finalized. Other items clarified were: cannot stack with carbon programs, will be a field-by-field basis, traceability will be mass balance and per legal entity, will need to get fields certified and will need a farm plan established and written. If you are interested in understanding more about 45Z and getting prepared this summer, please reach out.
 
Truterra® Early Adopter Program
Truterra is coming out with two new, exciting programs! The first one is the Early Adopter Program which allows farmers who have been doing no/strip-till on corn and beans since 2015 to be eligible for $25.00 an acre. They are providing some flexibility on tillage by allowing tillage to be done a couple of times in that timeframe, but it cannot be consecutive years. Alfalfa is okay as part of the crop rotation but can only be a certain number of those years. Like Truterra’s other programs, this is just a one-year contract. Payment is estimated in Q1 of 2025, so it’s very quick!
 
Truterra® Financial Assistance Program
The other program is for farmers who are doing no/strip-till and/or cover crops for the first time this fall. Payment for tillage change is $20.00 an acre and $80.00 an acre for cover crops. This program has a maximum of 500 acres per farmer. Payment is estimated for January 2026 since it’s for the 2025 crop year and is also a one-year contract.
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Both of the Truterra programs are in a joint program with the USDA so there will be paperwork (limited) required from the FSA. There is an option to assign someone on your behalf to collect the FSA paperwork that the farmer can initiate. Also, since these are USDA funded, you won’t be able to receive NRCS money for the same practices. You can stack them with private carbon programs. Both of these programs are field-by-field basis and have acre caps so it will be imperative to have field boundaries and information in the system prior to enrollment starting on August 1st.
 
Based on how Truterra’s carbon program filled up fast, these programs will hit their acre caps quickly. So don’t delay, call (641-260-2103) or email me (Landon.VanDyke@keycoop.com) to get things started!
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About 45Z - The 45Z tax credit serves as an incentive for biofuel producers who can demonstrate a reduction in the carbon intensity (CI) score of the crops used to create these fuels. The CI score quantifies the emissions produced over the entire lifecycle of crop cultivation, encompassing factors such as the energy required to produce fertilizer, emissions from various on-field cultivation practices, and the diesel consumed during crop transportation. If you have questions about 45Z, contact Landon Van Dyke.

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