Oct 13, 2022
Climate initiative awards $20 million to Elevated Foods

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded up to $20 million to Elevated Foods, allowing it to fast track its efforts to restore and regenerate agricultural lands, while producing more nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.

The project is one of many across the country through the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, a $2.8 billion initiative to promote agricultural research to address climate change.

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“We’re overjoyed to expand our work in supporting our nation’s fruit and vegetable farmers in producing and marketing healthy, safe, affordable and sustainable climate-smart crops,” Elevated Foods founder and CEO Steve Brazeel said in a news release. “The resounding endorsement of USDA – through its investment of $20 million – will help to usher in greater transparency to the fresh produce supply chain and return more profit to the farmers growing our food.”

Climate smart practices include cover cropping, water management, low-till/no-till, and nutrient management, among others, with a goal of conserving and protecting our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including soil, air and water.

Robert Bonnie, USDA’s undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Programs, and Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), attended the funding announcement at Solutions for Urban Agriculture’s Harvest Solutions Farm at the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine, California.

Over the next five years, Elevated Foods will support fruit and vegetable producers in implementing climate-smart production practices; measuring, monitoring, and verifying the carbon and greenhouse gas benefits associated with the implementation of these practices; and develop markets to promote fruit and vegetable crops as climate-smart commodities, expanding access to healthy and nutritious foods to a broad spectrum of customers and underserved communities.

Elevated Foods is partnering with other organizations, including:

  • California Department of Food and Agriculture;
  • Solutions for Urban Ag;
  • World Wildlife Fund;
  • University of Arizona;
  • International Fresh Produce Association;
  • AgLaunch;
  • Soil Health Academy;
  • Understanding Ag; and
  • California Association of Food Banks

“We believe our food system is at a critical inflection point,” Brazeel said in the release. “Consumers and commercial purchasers are increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from, and how it was produced. Farmers are eager to meet this demand, however existing production systems and distribution channels don’t afford access to bring these products to market profitably.”

The Elevated Foods project will engage hundreds of farms and several hundred thousand acres of working land with climate-smart production practices to provide more than a half million metric tons of carbon sequestration over the life of this project.

Photo: Elevated Foods describes itself as a “for-profit minority-owned business with relationships with hundreds of fruit and vegetable producers. PHOTO: Elevated Foods




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