This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. At Gwenyn Hill Farm in Waukesha, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack commemorated the progress made so far in standing up these initial projects.
USDA is investing more than $3.1 billion for 141 projects through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities effort, which seeks to build and expand market opportunities for American commodities produced using “climate-smart” practices through pilot projects.
“Over the past year, our Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities partners have started to hit the ground running, working to enroll farmers and landowners and stand up their projects that hold tremendous promise for both the future of American agriculture and our environment,” Vilsack said. “These wide-ranging, innovative, and forward-looking efforts will not only jumpstart the creation of new markets for climate-smart commodities, but also help producers and forest landowners of all sizes implement climate-smart practices on their lands and pilot innovative and cost-effective methods of quantifying the climate benefits of those practices.”
First Year Successes
USDA has finalized agreements for over 60 large pilot projects with grants ranging from $5 million to $90 million. Many of these projects have already started enrolling producers.
USDA expects over 1,500 producers to be enrolled by next month encompassing over 1 million acres and over 50,000 head of cattle. USDA also expects to see those numbers more than double by 2024 and continue to grow from there. For example, in Wisconsin, The Delong Company, Inc., has already enrolled over 100 producers, and more broadly in the Midwest, Iowa Soybean Association has already enrolled over 200 producers.
Additionally, USDA has been working to finalize agreements with another 71 smaller pilot projects that have an even greater emphasis on small and underserved producers and minority-serving institutions.
Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities includes requirements for grantees to submit the following information as part of their quarterly reporting:
- Progress reports and updates on farm, tract, and field data including, but not limited to, producers enrolled, acres, crops, and livestock covered, climate-smart practices implemented and related incentives;
- Updates on project summary data including geographic data, partner activities, and marketing activities as well as financial and budget information;
- MMRV methods, modeled and measured GHG benefits, and environmental co-benefits including, as applicable water, air, and habitat related benefits.