USDA to invest $1B in climate smart commodities

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is stepping up to deliver on its promise to expand markets by investing $1 billion in partnerships to support America's climate-smart farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will help finance pilot projects that create market opportunities for U.S. ag and forestry products that use climate-smart practices.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will help finance pilot projects that create market opportunities for U.S. ag and forestry products that use climate-smart practices and include innovative, cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse gas benefits.

"(The venture) will 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."

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, one of the largest dairy co-ops in the country welcomes the announcement.

Brody Stapel

"Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and our farmer members have already committed to more sustainable farming practices," said Edge President Brody Stapel. "This infusion of money will help build on that work."

Edge currently helps to support a number of farmer-led conservation groups and recognizes that those efforts are only the beginning.

"Edge and our sister organization, Farmers for Sustainable Food, are also working with dairy processors to develop sustainability projects based on their milksheds, including a pilot project recognized nationally for its supply chain partnerships," Stapel said. "This is an ideal way to focus on sustainability in a commodity-specific fashion from production to processing and on to final consumption."

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says that 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.

For the purpose of this funding opportunity, USDA defines a climate-smart commodity as an agricultural commodity that is produced using agricultural (farming, ranching or forestry) practice that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Funding will be provided to partners via 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, and;
  • develop markets and promote the resulting climate-smart commodities.

How to apply

A range of public and private entities may apply, including:

  • 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, or
  • 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 $5M to $100M), 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; and
  • Develop markets and promote climate-smart commodities generated as a result of project activities