USDA unveils climate initiative

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a new initiative to finance the deployment of climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices—we have details.

USDA’s Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative will “create new market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices and position U.S. farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners as leaders in addressing climate change,” said US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

How it works: “Guided by science, USDA will support a set of pilot projects that provide incentives to implement climate smart conservation practices on working lands and to quantify and monitor the carbon and greenhouse gas benefits associated with those practices. The pilots could rely on the Commodity Credit Corporation’s (CCC) specific power to aid in expansion or development of new and additional markets.”

USDA also announced a $3 billion investment in agriculture, animal health, and nutrition—learn more.

Earlier this year, the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA)—BIO’s a steering committee member—put forward recommendations for how USDA could utilize CCC to scale voluntary adoption of climate-smart practices that promote resiliency and climate change mitigation across public and private, natural and working lands.

What they’re saying: FACA “is pleased to see USDA embracing an incentive-based approach that would increase demand for climate-smart farm, ranch and forestry products, while building trust that the climate benefits are real and verifiable”—read their full statement.

The next steps: USDA is asking for public input on the initiative, with comments due by November 1, 2021. BIO will solicit feedback from members to craft a response.

In his speech announcing the initiative, Secretary Vilsack also highlighted the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which would “aid in the development of markets for sustainably produced products.” The House Agriculture Committee will be considering the bill soon—join BIOAction to ask your Members of Congress to support it.

More Agriculture and Environment News:

Agri-Pulse (Opinion): Why I’ve fought for biofuels through Congress’ infrastructure debate
“By investing in biofuels infrastructure, the Build Back Better Act will not only directly support rural America’s economic success but also tackle the threat of climate change head-on,” writes Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA).

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