The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be investing $1 billion to help expand market opportunities for climate-smart agricultural products. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program will help support pilot projects lasting one to five years. The pilots will provide technical and financial assistance for farmers engaged in climate-smart agricultural practice. Pilots will also support cost-effective means of monitoring and reporting environmental benefits, as well as the marketing of the resulting commodities. Project applications are currently being accepted for fiscal year 2022.
“America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest owners are leading the way in implementing climate-smart solutions across their operations,” Vilsack said in a press release. “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.”
Through the program, a climate-smart commodity is considered an agricultural product that is produced using practices which sequester carbon or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Applicable practices include cover cropping, manure management, enhanced efficiency fertilizers, soil amendments such as biochar, and nutrient management. Parameters of the overall program were informed by more than 400 comments submitted as part of the Request for Information published back in September. Funding support will be provided through the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation.
Applications will need to include explanation of climate-smart practices, methods for quantification, and means for market development and promotion. Public and private entities including small businesses, local and state governments, institutions, as well as for- and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply. Applications for the first funding pool must be submitted by April 8. Applications for the second funding pool are due by May 27. USDA will be hosting a series of webinars highlighting the specifics of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program in the coming weeks.