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USDA Extends Climate Funding to Small Farmers to Reduce GHG Emission

The USDA recently announced an additional $325 million in funding for projects targeting small-scale farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, bringing the USDA's total annual investment in climate-friendly farming to more than $3 billion.

Shivam Dwivedi
The project funding will come from the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC)
The project funding will come from the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC)

The USDA's efforts are part of a larger Biden administration goal to reduce U.S. emissions, with the Environmental Protection Agency estimating that farming accounts for 10% of total emissions.

According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, one of the program's primary goals is to enable more farmers to serve the growing consumer market for sustainably produced food.

"We want to encourage farmers and producers to use these practices more quickly, and we want the market to recognize and value [their] efforts," he said.

The funds will be used to fund 71 projects ranging in size from $250,000 to just under $5 million, to assist small and historically underserved farmers in adopting and evaluating lower-emission farming practices.

Black farmer associations, Native American tribes, and organizations that serve women, veterans, and beginning farmers are among the organizations that have received funding. Some projects will monitor and verify the benefits of climate-friendly farm practices such as crop rotation, solar panel installation in farm fields, and fertilizer reduction. Others will provide technical assistance to farmers to help them adopt new practices and skills.

The project funding will come from the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), a pool of money provided by the US Treasury to support the farm economy, as did funding for a $2.8 billion round of funding for 70 climate-friendly farm projects ranging in size from $5 million to $100 million announced by the agency in September.

According to Politico, Republican Representative G.T. Thompson of Pennsylvania, the incoming chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has argued that the USDA's use of CCC funds for the projects is outside of its authority and has promised to audit the programme. Thompson's office did not respond to a request for comment. Vilsack is unconcerned about a potential audit. "We're assisting in creating a market opportunity for farmers, which is exactly what the CCC was intended to do," he said.

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