Story at a glance
- The U.S Department of Agriculture has selected 70 “climate smart” agricultural projects to take part in its $2.8 billion pilot program.
- The pilot program, Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, aims to help make the agricultural sector more sustainable by implementing ‘climate smart’ practices like improving soil quality or changing manure management styles.
- The second pool of recipients will be announced later this year.
As the climate crisis continues, the Biden administration is investing more than $2 billion to help the country’s agricultural sector become more sustainable.
The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week that its $2.8 billion pilot program, Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, has selected its first pool of recipients — 70 agricultural projects that promote “climate smart” farming practices.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations defines climate smart agriculture as an approach to “transform agri-food systems toward green and climate resilient practices.”
Those practices include conservation tillage and cover cropping, which involves planting some form of flora for the sole purpose of absorbing water to either mitigate soil erosion or to protect seedings.
Other forms include actions like carbon capture and swapping out the use of wet cow manure — the creation of which accounts for a large amount of a farm’s greenhouse gas emissions — for dry manure like composting.
In 2020, methane made up 11 percent of the United States’ total greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The largest source of methane came from petroleum and natural gas, at 32 percent, followed by livestock at 27 percent, landfills and manure management, according to EPA data.
The second pool of selected projects will be announced later this year, the USDA said in a statement.
“The USDA is delivering on our promise to build and expand these market opportunities for American agriculture and be global leaders in climate-smart agricultural production,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
“There is strong and growing interest in the private sector and among consumers for food that is grown in a climate-friendly way. This effort will increase the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture both domestically and internationally, build wealth that stays in rural communities and support a diverse range of producers and operation types.”
The pilot program aims to incentivize farmers to produce commodities created via climate smart practices. The selected projects will run between one and five years and have funding ranges from $5 million to $100 million.
Projects selected to receive money from the second funding pool will “emphasize the enrollment of small and/or underserved producers, and/or monitoring, reporting, and verification activities developed at minority-serving institutions.”