In December 2022, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an additional $325 million in grant money for 71 projects designed to support developing climate-smart agricultural developments. This new financing is an expansion from the original $2.8 billion announced last fall.
The new money is devoted to supporting minority-served institutions and under-served producers. The funding is part of the current administration’s goal of becoming the first nation in the world to achieve net-zero agricultural emissions.
“We believe, first and foremost, this is an opportunity for American agriculture and forestry to lead the world in climate-smart practices,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We believe this is going to create a competitive opportunity for us, not only here domestically, but also internationally. We think this is going to generate new income sources and new income opportunities for farmers, ranchers, producers, and forest landowners.”
In total, the USDA is devoting more than $3 billion to the umbrella Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program.
The newest funding is designed to measure, monitor, report, and verify the results of the practices implemented by the projects.
Chosen projects expand and increase producer access to markets, invest in monitoring greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits, and provide technical and financial assistance to production lines. The overall goal is to bring successful green practices to new markets.
One of the newly-funded projects is from the Intertribal Buffalo Council, a coalition of 79 Native American Tribes. The council focuses on buffalo meat as a climate-smart food that could mitigate global warming.
“Buffalo are the original climate regulator,” said the Intertribal Buffalo Council’s Troy Heinert.
Other funded projects include an agrivoltacis research study from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley designed to promote equitable climate-smart commodity development for Hispanic ranchers. An incentive program for producers to switch to organic grains also has been given money.
As the country works toward lowering carbon emissions, the first step is to reduce U.S. GHGs in half by the end of the decade. This additional financial support for underserved companies and producers is critical to helping the nation’s agriculture become sustainable for the long term.
“Expanding opportunities for small and underserved producers is a key goal of Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities,” Vilsack said. “Small and underserved producers are facing the impacts of climate change head-on, with limited resources, and have the most to gain from leveraging the growing market demand for agricultural goods produced in a sustainable, climate-smart way.”
“Our goal is to expand markets for climate-smart commodities and ensure that small and underserved producers reap the benefits of these market opportunities,” Vilsack added.