USDA plans $1 billion investment in climate initiatives
“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.”
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $1 billion toward pilot projects that create market opportunities for U.S. agricultural and forestry products that use climate-smart practices and include innovative, cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse gas benefits.
Vilsack made the announcement about the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities on Monday, Feb. 7, at Lincoln University.
“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.”
The initiative received praise from ag sectors. House Agriculture Chairman David Scott said the move is "meaningful to the agriculture industry because it will help create new and enhanced markets and let farmers, ranchers, and foresters market and produce their commodities in a climate-smart way." He said the initiative is within Vilsack's authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation and will be good for the environment and producers' bottom lines.
“Making sure our farmers, ranchers, and foresters can take a leading role in fighting climate change is critical and something I have stressed since my first day as Chairman of our House Agriculture Committee,” he said in a statement.
Zippy Duvall, president of American Farm Bureau Federation, said his organization commends the efforts.
“Voluntary, incentive-based pilot projects are a great first step to identify barriers and ensure farmers and ranchers of all sizes can participate no matter where they are located or what they produce. We look forward to working with the administration, Congress and our members to develop bipartisan solutions that provide adequate CCC funding while also ensuring the longevity of programs that build on our longstanding commitment to sustainability,” he said in a statement.
National Farmers Union president Rob Larew said the announcement "marks a key step in helping farmers and ranchers be part of the solution."
"We appreciate that the climate-smart commodities opportunity is designed to be inclusive, collaborative, and focused on voluntary, incentive-based practices and approaches to conservation,” Larew said in a statement. “NFU is hopeful these pilot projects will help develop new market opportunities for farmers, and we stand ready to work with the administration to ensure the pilot projects are successful.”
The Food Agriculture Climate Alliance, which counts AFBF and National Farmers Union as members, released a statement praising the effort.
"Members of the Alliance welcome USDA’s plan to partner with farmers, ranchers, forest owners and nongovernmental organizations through pilot projects and are pleased to see the program structured in a manner consistent with FACA recommendations," the statement said. "We share Secretary Vilsack’s optimism that this approach will support climate-smart commodities while unlocking new market opportunities and we believe it will build confidence in the climate benefits of advanced farming and forestry practices."
How it will work
The USDA defines climate-smart commodity, for the purpose of the funding, 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 benefits associated with those practices.
- Develop markets and promote the resulting climate-smart commodities.
The following public and private entities may apply:
- 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 having a 501(c)(3) (other than institutions of higher education).
- Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) (other than institutions of higher education).
- Private institutions of higher education.
- 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 $5 million to $100 million), 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.
- Develop markets and promote climate-smart commodities generated as a result of project activities.