The USDA announced it will invest up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first pool of funding for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says farmers had a lot of input into developing the partnerships.
“We listened to farmers, ranchers, and producers. And they told us, in terms of establishing this program, that they felt the need for a series of pilot programs. They wanted it to be volunteer. They wanted it to be incentive and market-driven. They wanted innovative ways to measure, quantify, and verify results. They wanted us to support partnerships and collaboration, and they believed that it could be funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation.”
USDA’s anticipated investment will eventually triple from $1 billion to more than $3 billion for pilot projects that will create market opportunities for American commodities produced using climate-smart production practices. Vilsack says the agency boosted the available funding because the response to USDA’s request for funding applications was greater than they expected.
“We had two different types of applications that could be filed. We have large grant applications for $5 million to as much as $100 million. We had small grant applications ranging from $250,000 to $5 million. We got a tremendous response. In fact, we got a response that, I think, far exceeded our expectations. 450 applications were filed into the large grant program and 600 applications under the small grant program, for a total of 1,050 applications, requesting nearly $20 billion in support: all commodities, all states, all size producers, all types of production methods.”
He talks about some specific things the funding will be used for in each of the 70 identified project recipients.
“The resources will be used to provide assistance for technical and financial assistance and to implement climate-smart practices on private working lands and forested areas. They will pay for and encourage pilot projects that are innovative and cost effective that also include methods for quantifying, monitoring, reporting, and verifying greenhouse-gas benefits and carbon-sequestration benefits. And they’ll help to develop and expand markets for climate-smart commodities.”
USDA will work with applicants for the 70 projects to finalize the scope and funding levels in the coming months. Approved projects for a second round of funding will be announced later this year. For more information, go to usda.gov.