Blue Diamond USDA Climate-Smart Grant Program Launches

Brian GermanAlmonds, Industry, Nuts & Grapes

Blue Diamond Growers (BDG) is expanding their sustainability efforts with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The funding is being made available through USDA’s Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities grant program. “We were one of less than 200 that were selected for funding, and we were awarded up to $45 million over five years to implement our project,” said Dr. Dan Sonke, BDG Director of Sustainability.

Climate-Smart Grant

The Blue Diamond USDA Climate-Smart Grant program will help incentivize and advance the adoption of sustainable production practices within the almond industry. Growers can receive seed, plant material, and direct financial reimbursement for certain sustainable practices. Sonke said they are focused on cover cropping, conservation planting, hedgerows, and whole orchard recycling. Combined, the practices present a tremendous opportunity for sequestering carbon, while also providing benefits to growers. Thus far, two of the practices have been made available for BDG’s 3,000 grower-owners to participate in. Applications are currently being accepted for cover cropping and conservation plantings.

“We’re eager to get the applications for cover crops and conservation plantings within the next few weeks as much as possible,” Sonke explained. “There isn’t a strict deadline per se, but in order to get the seed ordered, and delivered to growers during harvest so that right after harvest they can plant and catch the winter rains, we really need those applications before September 1, and the sooner the better.”

Other aspects of the Blue Diamond USDA Climate-Smart Grant Program will become available in the near future. Sonke said they are still working through some of the necessary paperwork requirements for hedgerows and whole orchard recycling. “Once we open up the other practices, those are a little bit more amendable to year-round implementation, especially whole orchard recycling. We expect essentially to be receiving applications year-round,” Sonke explained.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West