Dec 14, 2022USDA releases funding for climate projects
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is advancing climate-related projects by releasing more funding for projects by growers and others.
The USDA is providing an additional $325 million for 71 projects in the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. The projects are part of the second funding round, bringing total investment to more than $3.1 billion for 141 tentatively selected projects.
At a Dec. 12 news conference, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Biden-Harris Administration, through the program, is working to expand markets for American producers who produce climate-smart commodities, leverage greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart production and provide practical benefits to growers.
“We think this is a tremendous opportunity to foster cooperation and partnerships with researchers in a variety of different contexts,” Vilsack said. “We think this is also an opportunity to perhaps create a sense of single purpose within American agriculture through food production. It’s a unifying opportunity. I think it’s fair to say in far too many parts of our country today, things are divisive, things are being drawn apart. We think this is an opportunity for us to bring us together.”
Projects funded require significant involvement of small and underserved producers. The second funding pool was focused on new projects that emphasize enrolling small and underserved producers and invest in measuring, monitoring, reporting and verifying the benefits of climate-smart practices at minority-serving institutions.
“We recognize in developing and designing this program that it wasn’t enough to create large projects,” Vilsack said. “We also had to address and attend to the needs of small-sized family operations as well as those who have been underserved. We realized we needed to have smaller projects that could also be available.”
A complete list of projects is available at usda.gov/climate-smart-commodities.
- Berries, grapes, fruits and vegetables: Pilot projects for climate-smart fruit and vegetable production, marketing, and valuation of ecosystem services. The project will incentivize growers of specialty crops to adopt climate-smart production in order to establish a consumer-driven, climate-smart market for fruits and vegetables grown using climate-smart practices. International Fresh Produce Association with University of Florida, CropTrak, Alamo Farms, Bayer, Bland Farms, Bolthouse Farms, Calavo, Campbell Soup Company, Del-Monte, Driscoll’s, Sun Pacific.
- Specialty and organic crops: “Farmers Guiding Farmers Towards Climate Smart Agriculture.” The project plans to advance equity by minimizing transaction costs and addressing cultural dynamics for black and indigenous producers by using a farmer-to-farmer collaborative training approach. Florida A&M University in partnership with National Black Food & Justice Alliance, Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, Organic Farmers Association, Women Food and Agriculture Network, the Earth’s Garden Network.
- Fruit, vegetables and specialty crops, beef, livestock: Increasing Accessibility to “Regenerative Farming Practices and Markets for Small and/or Underserved Producers.” Participants will receive stipends to cover time spent on climate-smart regenerative farm planning and emissions reduction plan design. Lead Partner Greener World along with Soil Health Institute, National Young Farmers Coalition, National Co-op Grocers Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA.
- Through the “Validating Agrivoltaic Technology with Underserved Agricultural Producers” project, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and other partners plan to pilot the climate-smart co-location of agriculture and solar power to measure and evaluate greenhouse gas benefits and promote equitable climate-smart commodity market development for Hispanic farmers and ranchers.
The funding opportunity garnered high demand from across agriculture. More than 1,000 proposals from 50 states were entered from a wide variety of growers and organizations, which included nonprofits, farmer cooperatives, conservation, energy and environmental groups, state, tribal and local governments, universities and small businesses.
Secretary Vilsack made the announcement from Tuskegee University, a Historically Black College and University and 1890 Land-grant university, which is the lead partner on two non-produce projects.