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USDA Announces Plan for $1 Billion Investment in Climate Smart Commodity Programs

On Monday, February 7th, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced plans to utilize $1 billion from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to invest in "climate smart" pilot projects that promote farming, ranching and forestry practices that cut greenhouse gas emissions or capture and store climate-warming carbon. The program is expected to operate similar to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), but with a direct focus on "climate smart" initiatives.

According to USDA, the agency will finance partnerships to support the production and marketing of climate-smart commodities via a set of pilot projects lasting one to five years. Pilots will provide technical and financial assistance to producers who implement climate-smart practices on a voluntary basis on working lands; pilot innovative and cost-effective methods for quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas benefits; and market the resulting climate-smart commodities.

USDA opened the project application process on Monday and will accept applications for the first round of funding through April 8th. The first funding pool will go to larger projects with proposals ranging anywhere from $5 million up to $100 million. A second set of funding projects with a May 27 application deadline will go toward smaller-scale projects with proposals ranging from $250,000 to $4.99 million.

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