USDA’s Climate-Smart program up and running

“Farming is no longer about what food is produced; it’s also about how food is produced,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “The world is demanding more sustainable products across the board.”

Approximately $3.1 billion will be spent on 141 pilot projects, providing incentives for producers to adopt climate-sensitive practices on working lands. The USDA said 29 projects with 45 major commodities in the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program were already active and that negotiations were finalized with most of the 70 projects selected last fall for $2.8 billion in support. The projects will run from one to five years.

“We’re looking forward to seeing these projects hit the ground running now to enroll farmers and landowners in these exciting efforts,” Vilsack said.

USDA will make its findings from this effort available “so that we can all work together to make the most climate-smart commodity markets move forward,” Vilsack added. When in full operation, the projects will involve more than 60,000 farms and 25 million acres of working lands, including woodlands, using such practices as nutrient management and cover crops to sequester a combined 60 million metric tons of carbon in the soil and trees, according to USDA.