U.S. Department of Agriculture announces additional funding for climate-smart programs
On Dec. 12, in Tuskegee, Ala., U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the federal government will be offering an additional $325 million for agricultural projects dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
This declaration comes three months after Vilsack announced USDA would be investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities. The additional $325 million increases the USDA’s investment to more than $3.1 billion for 141 total projects.
The Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities was introduced by the USDA in February, and the design of the project was informed by nearly 400 comments received in a request for information published by the department in September 2021.
USDA noted they will finance partnerships to support the production and marketing of climate-smart commodities through a set of pilot projects, which may last anywhere from one to five years.
“Funding for Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities will be delivered through our Commodity Credit Corporation in two pools,” USDA explained. “The 70 projects announced on Sept. 14 are from the first funding pool, which included proposals seeking funds ranging from $5 million to $100 million. The 71 projects announced in December are from the second funding pool, which include proposals seeking funds from $250,000 to under $5 million.”
According to the department, these projects will provide technical and financial assistance to producers who implement climate-smart production practices on a voluntary basis, pilot innovative and cost-effective methods for quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification of GHG benefits and promote resulting climate-smart commodities. According to The Associated Press, more than 1,000 proposals have been submitted to the USDA to participate in the program.
Serving the underserved
One of USDA’s overarching goals with the Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodity Program is to help underserved farmers and ranchers. In fact, the recent round of funding is dedicated to beginning producers, producers living in socially disadvantaged communities, veterans and individuals with limited resources.
“It’s important we send the message that it’s not about the size of an operation. Large-scale producers are not the only ones who will benefit from this program,” Vilsack said in The Associated Press. “For producers who have historically not been able to participate fully and completely in programs at USDA, this program is going to be different.”
According to USDA, projects announced on Dec. 12 have funding ranging from $250,000 to $4.9 million.
This includes $4.9 million to promote urban, mainly Black farmers who grow and market crops in Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi and South Carolina and $4.9 million to help small and socially disadvantaged farmers in San Diego County, Calif., by improving soil health through applying compost, reducing tillage of the land and growing trees and shrubs.
An additional $3 million will go toward helping farmers in over 60 Texas counties adopt practices such as regenerative agriculture, which builds healthy soil more resistant to drought and heat, and another $4.9 million to help farmers in 10 states, and on Tribal lands grow barley using regenerative practices.
After the climate-smart money is awarded, Vilsack explained there will be an effort to monitor which programs succeed and which programs struggle. This information will be used to help successful programs be replicated throughout the U.S. and in other parts of the world.
“We think this will unify this effort on climate, not to make it a divisive approach but one unifying American agriculture and forest landowners. It is a concerted effort to improve income opportunities, to reduce GHG emissions, to store carbon and to create healthier soils and clean water,” Vilsack concluded.
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.