In one of his first major steps to reduce agricultural carbon emissions, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday announced plans to fund a series of large-scale projects aimed at developing markets for agricultural and forestry practices smart about the climate.

The projects could be funded using Vilsack’s spending authority under the Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corp.

The initiative aims to promote markets for “climate-smart commodity markets,” according to a federal registry notice.

These markets “would include sustainable supply chain initiatives and internal corporate commitments where companies commit to reducing emissions within their own supply chains and production facilities. Opportunities also include the low carbon biofuels and renewable energy markets. market GHG reductions generated as part of the production of climate-smart raw materials.

Vilsack separately announced on Wednesday that he would use $ 3 billion from the CCC to tackle African swine fever, promote agricultural resilience to drought, alleviate disruptions in agricultural supply and help schools cope with the problems of supplies related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a speech prepared to be delivered at Colorado State University, Vilsack said that all of these challenges the USDA will tackle involve “cries for help” which “can be answered through the use of the Commodity Credit Corp “.

The CCC is a revolving account that is replenished annually. The USDA had $ 7.4 billion under its CCC spending limit for the fiscal year ending Thursday, according to a source with knowledge of the fund.

“In the midst of another difficult period for American agriculture in the 1930s during the Dust Bowl, President Roosevelt and Congress created the Commodity Credit Corp. – a powerful tool that enables the USDA to be nimble. aggressive and prescriptive, ”Vilsack said.

USDA has not provided a cost estimate for climate projects or details on what the projects should encompass. The ministry is initially seeking public input on the design of the initiative. The department plans to use its legal authority under the CCC to help develop or expand agricultural markets, a spokeswoman said.

The Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative will support pilot projects that create new market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices and position farmers, ranchers and US forest owners as leaders in the fight against climate change, ”said Vilsack.

“Pilots will invest in science, monitoring and verification to measure the benefits of these climate-smart practices. “

USDA is specifically seeking comment on these issues: the current state of climate-smart commodity markets; quantification systems, evaluation options and criteria, use of information collected within the framework of projects; potential protocols that would be used, options for review and verification of results; and ways to include historically underserved communities.

Some questions the USDA wants answered include: “How would existing state and private sector compliance markets for carbon offsets be affected by this potential federal program?” “And,” In order to expand markets, what should be the scope of the Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Program, including in terms of geography, scale, project focus and project activities supported? “

USDA is also interested in how early adopters of climate-friendly practices can be included in the program.

Robert Bonnie, the USDA’s senior climate adviser and President Joe Biden’s nominee for USDA’s undersecretary for crop production and conservation, called for using the CCC to fund a carbon bank.

At Bonnie’s Senate confirmation hearing in July, he argued that the CCC can be used to compensate farmers for work they do that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

CCC’s $ 3 billion for other needs includes $ 1.5 billion for schools to deal with supply chain disruptions and $ 1.5 billion to be evenly split between resilience to drought, assistance to the agricultural supply chain and prevention of African swine fever.

Specifically, $ 500 million will be used to help farmers and ranchers recover from drought and encourage adoption of water management practices. The $ 500 million set aside for agricultural supply chains is designed to help address challenges related to the availability and cost of materials and other barriers to commodity commercialization.

The $ 500 million for ASF prevention will finance the expansion and coordination of the surveillance, prevention and quarantine programs of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

For more information, visit Agri-Pulse.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *