Should I apply for the USDA’s Partnership of Climate-Smart Commodities program?

May 3, 2022

A new program is on the horizon and producers in the FarmRaise community are asking us about it. So, here’s a quick rundown of the USDA’s new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, who is eligible to apply and alternatives to the program.

The Climate-Smart Commodities program is a 2022 initiative to encourage non-UDSA entities to contribute in the fight against climate change. Individual producers can’t apply, but FarmRaise will track successful applicants and inform you of projects that might fit your operation.

On February 7, 2022, the USDA announced details of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities (CSC) program. The idea is to encourage non-USDA solutions for innovating and integrating climate-smart agriculture across U.S. farmland. The program sets aside $1 billion dollars in grant funding for entities to develop five-year pilot projects that will:

  • Implement climate-smart production practices and systems on working lands
  • Measure, monitor, and verify the environmental benefits of these practices
  • Grow market opportunities to promote climate-smart commodities

Translation: Local organizations will create pilot projects to implement and market climate-smart agricultural or forestry practices. Once those projects get started later this year, they’ll be available for you to participate!

What does “climate-smart” mean?

The five-year pilot projects must support the production and marketing of climate-smart commodities. But what qualifies as “climate-smart” agriculture?

The USDA holds a broad definition of “climate-smart” commodity, defining it as “an agricultural commodity that is produced using farming, ranching or forestry practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon.

Examples of climate-smart projects can include:

  • Cover crops
  • Low-till or no-till
  • Enhanced efficiency fertilizers and manure management
  • Feed management to reduce enteric emissions
  • Afforestation/reforestation and sustainable forest management
  • Maintaining and improving forest soil quality
  • Increase on-site carbon storage through forest stand management
  • And much more.

How is this different from EQIP?

Though both CSC and EQIP are USDA programs, EQIP funding is distributed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Many of the practices incentivized by the NRCS, such as soil health practices, reforestation, and nutrient management, are also eligible for CSC funding.

Unlike EQIP, though, CSC emphasizes climate-smart projects like carbon sequestration and promotes the market development for climate-smart commodities, so producers can receive a premium for improving their production.

Many of producers in the FarmRaise community have asked “if I am already enrolled in EQIP, can I apply for this funding too?” The short answer is no. However, you can’t receive CSC funding for practices that EQIP or other NRCS programs already pay for.

Who is eligible to apply for CSC? Can I apply?

The USDA encourages entities to apply to the CSC program including: state, local and tribal governments, educational institutions, non-profit and for-profit organizations.

Notice what’s missing from that list? The current application period is not intended for individual farmers and other producers.

However, entities with successful CSC applications will use the funding to create local projects with their own eligibility requirements. One of those future projects might be a good fit for you. If one of those projects is a good fit for you, your FarmRaise Farmer Success Advocate will share those details once they’re available. In the meantime, check back with us to find out more.

EQIP: A funding alternative to CSC

The CSC program is only available for entities, not individuals.

Those entities are applying to create projects, and once local-level projects become available to individual farmers and producers (likely in the fall of 2022 or winter 2023), FarmRaise will share the relevant information.

There are other tried and true federal programs out there for producers looking to improve their operations. We recommend you to start with EQIP and talk with us about what your best options might be. You can get started today by checking you eligibility or scheduling a 15 minute call with an advocate on our FarmRaise team. Both options are free and can get you on your way to farm profitability today.

Check your EQIP eligibility here!

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