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USDA awards nearly $3 billion for climate-smart ag projects

Today the USDA is set to announce $2.8 billion in cost-share grants for 70 projects aimed at reducing American agriculture’s carbon footprint. 

The initiative, Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, was announced earlier this year with $1 billion in funding available. The agency says the application response was so overwhelming they worked to make more than $3 billion available through the Commodity Credit Corporation. 

“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,” USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says. “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 agency received 450 applications for the first round. Project proposals requested anywhere from $5 million to $100 million. The second round of awards will be later this fall, and USDA will have 600 applications to sort through for grants ranging from $250,000 to $4.9 million. 

“The breadth of this effort is pretty significant, and I think it is a testament to the desire of [American agriculture] to be part of the solution,” Vilsack says. 

Over the next five years, the 70 projects announced today will provide technical and financial assistance to farmers looking to implement climate-smart production practices on a voluntary basis; pilot methods for quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas benefits; and develop markets and promote the resulting climate-smart commodities.

The projects will focus on a range of commodities from corn to specialty crops. 

USDA estimates these 70 projects have the potential to sequester more than 50 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. 

A full list of the projects can be found here

“This is an important day for American agriculture,” Vilsack says. “American agriculture and forestry have really stepped up, and we want to be a partner with them.” 

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