Ag News

USDA invests $2.8 billion in America's climate-smart farmers

by Compiled by Georgia Farm Bureau

Posted on Oct 13, 2022 at 0:00 AM

On Sept. 14, the USDA announced it is spending up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities (PCSC) funding opportunity, with projects from the second funding pool to be announced later this year. The USDA anticipates spending more than $3 billion in pilot programs that will create market opportunities for American commodities produced using climate-smart production practices.

These initial projects will expand markets for climate-smart commodities, leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production and provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture, including for small and underserved producers. Applicants submitted more than 450 project proposals in this first funding pool, and the strength of the projects identified led USDA to increase its investment in this opportunity from the initial $1 billion Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced earlier this year.

Projects involving Georgia crops or organizations that were awarded funding under the PCSC program:

• A vibrant future: Pilot projects for climate-smart fruit and vegetable production, marketing, and valuation of ecosystem services. This 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. Major commodities include berries, grapes, fruits and vegetables.

• ADM and Partners’ Climate-Smart Solutions: This project will utilize incentive payments to thousands of producers across 15 state to adopt and implement climate smart agriculture (CSA). Part of the project will include engagement of Archer-Daniels-Midland’s (ADM) 5,000 underserved producers to promote CSA opportunities, resulting in significant greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and removals. Major commodities include corn, soybeans, wheat, peanuts, sorghum, flax, hemp, canola, edible beans and pulse crops.

• Building Soil, Building Equity: Accelerating a Regenerative Farming Movement in Appalachia and the Southeast. This project seeks to build climate-smart markets and sequester carbon over thousands of acres of Appalachian and rural southeastern land through strategic recruitment from networks of producers. The project will use education, outreach, technical assistance and incentivizing producers to adopt CSA. Major commodities include fruit and vegetables, row crops and beef.

Climate Beneficial Fiber: Building New, Accessible, and Equitable Market Opportunities for Climate-Smart Cotton and Wool. This project will expand the existing Climate Beneficial fiber program: a system for sequestering carbon, regenerating soil health and resilience, improving social equity, and bolstering America's ability to produce fiber. A newly created, open-source, carbon farm planning and verification platform will streamline climate smart agriculture planning and verification for producers, verifiers, and supply chain stakeholders. Major commodities include sheep and cotton.

• U.S. Climate Smart Cotton Program:  This project, led by the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol,  will build markets for climate-smart cotton and provide technical and financial assistance to over 1,000 U.S. cotton farmers, including underserved cotton producers, to advance adoption of climate-smart practices on more than 1 million acres, producing millions of bales of Climate-Smart Cotton over five years, and demonstrating major carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) reductions and millions of dollars of economic benefits to farmers. Major commodity is cotton.

The Climate Smart Cotton Program is a collaborative effort with Cotton Incorporated and the NCC's export promotion arm, Cotton Council International; the Soil Health Institute; the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund; Alabama A&M University; North Carolina A&T University; Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Research; and Agricenter International in Memphis. The NCC also is grateful for Target’s support of the project through cost-share funding.

• Connected Ag Climate-Smart Commodities Pilot Project: This project will expand climate-smart markets for many agricultural commodities and provide direct payments, technical assistance, and data management strategies to producers of row crops, beef, dairy, pork, and other commodities to adopt climate-smart practices and strategies. Major commodities include corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, potatoes, beef, dairy, pork, small ruminants and specialty crops.

• Elevated Foods Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities: This project will implement climate-smart production practices, activities, and systems on a large-scale across cropland planted to fruits and vegetables, with a particular focus on fresh fruit and vegetable crops. Partners propose to implement practices on hundreds of thousands of acres planted to fruit and vegetables in key growing regions across the United States, and extend the producer reach to urban farmers in Orange County, California, and the Navajo Nation, to meet the needs of small and historically underserved producers. Major commodities include apples, grapes, fruits and vegetables.

• Engaging Family Forests to Improve Climate-Smart Commodities (EFFICACI): This project will address the relationship between family forest owners, the forest products industry, and broader climate goals across the eastern US. The goal is to build a region-wide CSC forest program that leverages the field-tested Family Forest Carbon Program, an engaged and trusted landowner network, and advanced digital forestry tools to engage traditional and underserved partners and advance the production and marketing of CSC forest products. Major commodities include timber and forest products.

• Expanding Agroforestry Production & Markets: This project will build climate-smart markets and increase capital investments in tree planting that will increase the supply of agroforestry commodities utilizing a network of leaders in forestry. Working directly with manufacturers and retailers to connect potential buyers with producers (including underserved producers). Major commodities include nuts, berries, beef, fruit trees and forest products.

• Low Carbon Beef USDA Pilot Program: A Fully Integrated Lifecycle Approach to Reduce GHG Emissions from Beef Cattle at Commercial Scale. This project will help to implement climate-smart methods in beef production, reducing GHG emissions and generating carbon credit revenue for producers. Major Commodities include beef and grass.

• Producer Led Collaborative Effort to Fundamentally Transition the U.S. Beef Supply Chain to Carbon Neutral: This eight-state project will amplify production of climate-smart beef by expanding market drivers, grassroots support networks, and early adopter mentors and providing technical assistance for the adoption of Climate-smart grazing practices to substantially reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration. The project will also support farmers in protecting their land through permanent easements to help ensure that the soil health and climate benefits from those practices continue far into the future. Major commodity is beef.

• Quantifying the Potential to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Increase Carbon Sequestration by Growing and Marketing Climate-Smart Commodities in the Southern Piedmont: Aimed at the southern piedmont vegetable farming community, this proposal will utilize a interdisciplinary system approach including farmer adoption, understanding economic/social barriers, market/consumer buy-in, utilizing technology and easing burden on farmers. The results of the project will build climate-smart markets, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increases carbon sequestration, increase farmer economic opportunities and adoption of climate-smart agriculture. Major commodity is vegetables.

• Strengthening Grassroots Leadership & Capacity to Scale Climate-Smart Production Systems and Facilitate Historically Underserved Producers' Access to Markets: This project will work through its network of 3,000 conservation districts throughout the nation to grow and advance grassroots efforts to ensure producers and local communities are prepared to meet the demand and have access to climate-smart commodity markets. Major Commodities include corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, rice and livestock.

• The Climate-Smart Agriculture Innovative Finance Initiative: This project, covering more than 30 states, will use innovative finance mechanisms to accelerate climate-smart practice uptake by farmers, leveraging private sector demand to strengthen markets for climate-smart commodities. Partners will provide technical assistance and additional financial incentives to a diverse array of producers across a range of commodities, tying climate-smart practices to commodity purchases and creating a scalable model for private sector investment. Major commodities include corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, wheat, potatoes, barley, sorghum, alfalfa, peanuts, rice, sugarbeets and livestock.

• The Grass is Greener on the Other Side: Developing Climate-Smart Beef and Bison Commodities. This project will create market opportunities for beef and bison producers who utilize climate-smart agriculture grazing & land management practices. The project will guide & educate producers on climate-smart practices most suited for their operations, manage large-scale climate-smart data that will be used by producers to improve decision-making, and directly impact market demand for climate-smart beef/bison commodity markets. Major commodities include beef and bison.

• The Growing GRASS & Climate-Smart Value-Added U.S. Commodity Markets Project (Growing GRASS Project):  This multi-year project will pilot, test and evaluate how the GRASS supply chain can be optimized for value and climate performance from farm and ranch to markets, starting with the greenhouse gas benefits of grazing systems. Major commodity is beef.

• TRACT Program: Traceable Reforestation for America’s Carbon and Timber. This project addresses the need to expand and recover the nation’s forest estate to balance the demand for wood products with the increasing need for forests to serve as carbon reservoirs. The project will deploy funding, planning, and implementation of reforestation and afforestation activities in lands deforested by wildfire in the Western U.S. and degraded agricultural lands in the Southern U.S. Every acre planted & the volume of forest products generated will have a quantified and verified climate benefit in metric tons of CO2e. Major commodities include timber and forest products

• Tyson Foods, Inc. Climate-Smart Commodities Project: This project will expand climate-smart markets and increase carbon sequestration and reduce emissions in the production of beef and row crops for livestock feed. Small and underserved producers will receive technical assistance and incentive payments to increase their capacity to reduce emissions and adopt climate-smart practices. Major Commodities include beef, poultry, pork and corn.

Visit for more information about the PCSC program.

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