NSAC's Blog

Release: USDA Launches Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities  

February 7, 2022

For Immediate Release

Contact: Laura Zaks

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition


Tel. 347.563.6408

Release: USDA Launches Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities  

Washington, DC, February 7, 2022 – Today, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the launch of the Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities, a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) effort to combat the climate crisis by partnering with agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to provide climate solutions that strengthen rural America. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is pleased to see that the Administration took many of the recommendations NSAC put forth in 2021. 

“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is heartened to see today’s announcement launching the Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities, which will finance pilot projects to create market opportunities for US agricultural and forestry products that use ‘climate-smart’ practices and include innovative, cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse gas benefits,” said Eric Deeble, NSAC Policy Director, adding: “We applaud the administration’s decision to make awards in two stages, which will help ensure the pilots are broadly accessible to organizations and efforts at a range of scales, as well as the inclusion of a priority on small-scale and historically underserved producer communities in the criteria for both funding pools.”

The program’s clear emphasis on having grantees measure, monitor, and verify carbon, may pose a challenge for projects seeking to engage small and very small producers. NSAC would urge USDA to outline its plans to provide technical assistance for developing and implementing carbon quantification. Systems that are easy to measure, monitor, and verify often provide relatively few carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas reduction benefits. It will be essential to share how projects emphasizing monitoring and verification of carbon will permit the participation of highly diversified, small- and mid-scale growers and account for the wide range of environmental benefits that such farm systems often provide.

“NSAC supports programs that: create the infrastructure needed to market crops from resource-conserving crop rotations; support composting systems rather than methane digesters as a solution to livestock waste through compost purchase programs and the provision of compost equipment; and support the move toward perennial systems including agroforestry, perennial grasslands, and perennial grain crops,” stated Deeble. 

Effectively expanding climate-friendly systems will require purchase programs, infrastructure and equipment support, as well as market support. Such programs can ensure that farmers who already grow highly diversified systems with continuous or permanent living cover, and who integrate livestock into their cropping systems, will be able to find good returns for their climate-friendly products. 

“These farmers and ranchers are our climate leaders, and USDA programs should recognize their important contributions. NSAC would like to see the climate-smart commodities supported by the USDA effectively bolster farmers and ranchers that are climate leaders and enable other farms and ranches to transform their practices to effectively address environmental challenges,” Deeble added.


About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more: https://sustainableagriculture.net/

Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment, Local & Regional Food Systems, Press Releases, Rural Development

One response to “Release: USDA Launches Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities  ”

  1. Dean Dickel says:

    I was on the teleconference with Sec. Vilsack yesterday as well and I think you did a good job of recapping what he had to say. In my opinion, until we address mainstream agriculture’s reluctance to embrace the idea that synthetic fertilizers and pesticides have a negative effect on soil health, there will be little appreciable progress in mitigating climate change.
    The USDA spends $25 billion to $40 billion annually on farm subsidies, which, if redirected to reward the farmers actually sequestering carbon each and every day, agriculture could achieve the climate change a lot of us believe is possible.
    I wrote an oped piece a year ago outlining how I hoped the new administration should approach climate change in USDA policy.
    There continues to be rhetoric that there is not an accurate way to measure carbon implications at the individual farm or field level. In researching this issue I have found just such a “tool” in use in Britain and other EU countries. Called the Farm Carbon Calculator, I am in the process of adopting this tool for use in the U.S.
    Things are moving fast in this field (as they should) and I am looking to connect with any and all entities that are interested in moving this issue forward.