USDA to invest $1bn in “climate-smart commodities” and market expansion

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: Getty Images/Joseph Chavez
Pic: Getty Images/Joseph Chavez

Related tags: Dairy, Usda, Milk

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $1bn in partnerships to support America’s climate-smart farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

The new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity will finance pilot projects that create market opportunities for US agricultural and forestry products that use climate-smart practices and include innovative, cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse gas benefits. USDA is now accepting project applications for fiscal year 2022.

“America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest owners are leading the way in implementing climate-smart solutions across their operations,”​ said Vilsack.

“Through Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, USDA will provide targeted funding to meet national and global demand and expand market opportunities for climate-smart commodities to increase the competitive advantage of American producers. We want a broad array of agriculture and forestry to see themselves in this effort, including small and historically underserved producers as well as early adopters.”

For the purposes of this funding opportunity, a climate-smart commodity is defined as an agricultural commodity that is produced using agricultural (farming, ranching or forestry) practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon.

Funding will be provided to partners through the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation for pilot projects to provide incentives to producers and landowners to: implement climate-smart production practices, activities, and systems on working lands; measure/quantify, monitor and verify the carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits associated with those practices; and develop markets and promote the resulting climate-smart commodities.

A range of public and private entities may apply for the funding, including county, city or township governments, special district governments, state governments, small businesses, for-profit organizations other than small businesses, Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized), Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments), nonprofits either with or without a 501(c)(3) (other than institutions of higher education), private institutions of higher education, or public and state-controlled institutions of higher education.

The primary applicant must be an entity, not an individual.

Funding will be provided in two funding pools, and applicants must submit their applications via Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 8, 2022, for the first funding pool (proposals from $5m to $100m), and May 27, 2022, for the second funding pool (proposals from $250,000 to $4,999,999).

Proposals must provide plans to: pilot implementation of climate-smart agriculture and/or forestry practices on a large-scale, including meaningful involvement of small and/or historically underserved producers; quantify, monitor, report and verify climate results; and develop markets and promote climate-smart commodities generated as a result of project activities.

NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern supported the announcement and said, “We applaud Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his team at USDA for working to fashion the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative in a way that will provide significant opportunities for US dairy producers of all sizes to build on their proactive sustainability work. This new initiative will support voluntary, producer-led efforts to increase on-farm adoption of climate smart agricultural technologies and practices. Such efforts are essential to help US dairy farmers fulfill their environmental stewardship goals to become greenhouse gas neutral or better by 2050 and improve water quality while optimizing water use.

“NMPF looks forward to working with USDA to make this program a success —and a springboard for additional achievements.”

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, one of the largest dairy co-ops in the country, also welcomed the news.

“Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and our farmer members have already committed to more sustainable farming practices,”​ Edge president Brody Stapel said.

“This infusion of money will help build on that work. Edge helps support a number of farmer-led conservation groups and we recognize those efforts are only the beginning. Edge and our sister organization, Farmers for Sustainable Food, are also working with dairy processors to develop sustainability projects based on their milksheds, including a pilot project recognized nationally for its supply chain partnerships.

“This is an ideal way to focus on sustainability in a commodity-specific fashion from production to processing and on to final consumption. We are hopeful the new USDA grants will help to expand efforts like this aimed at both sustainability for the environment and financial viability for the farmer.”

Related topics: Sustainability, Markets, Fresh Milk

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