Secretary of Agriculture Announces USDA Investment of $1 Billion in Climate Smart Commodities
USDA’s new ‘Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities’ is making $1 billion dollars available from the Commodity Credit Corporation to advance conservation practices.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the goal is to fund a portfolio of projects that span every type of agriculture.
“We’re hoping a wide range of public and private entities will come together to develop pilot projects that seek to deploy climate smart practices across numerous farms, ranches, and forested lands. And we’re looking to cover an inclusive, broad set of folks from across agriculture and forestry.”
He says successful projects will focus on innovative, producer friendly ways to implement and measure climate benefits.
“The projects have to incentivize producers to adopt production and marketing practices that will ensure that the agricultural commodity has climate smart properties. They must also have a plan to measure, monitor and verify the carbon and greenhouse gas benefits associated with those practices. And finally, these projects must also address how they’re going to go about helping to develop markets that will promote the resulting climate smart commodity generated from these practices.”
USDA will also be prioritizing equity in the applications to include specialty crops, small farms, and historically underserved groups.
“Now in practice, this might look for example, like a group of small farmers working with a nonprofit to implement and quantify climate smart practices in partnership with a retailer or it could be a network of commodity organizations recruiting specialty crop farmers to quantify reduced emissions and market the resulting products. It may be a project farmer partner organization, working with universities, to test innovative approaches to monitor and verify climate benefits and marketing.”
Applications are already open with 2 deadlines for submitting proposals.
“The first round of applications will be due April 8th. These will find large projects and I mean large projects where the grant funding could be $5 million $50 million or more. A second round of project proposals where applications will be due by May 27th. And this will be for smaller proposals could be $250,000 could be something less than $5 million.”
While there has been some concern from farm groups about using Commodity Credit Corporation funds for the project, Secretary Vilsack says he is confident that this will not interfere with USDA’s ability to fund Farm Bill programs through the CCC.