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Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities

USDA is committed to supporting a diverse range of farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners through Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities. This effort will expand markets for America’s climate-smart commodities, leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production, and provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture, including for small and underserved producers.

On September 14, 2022, Secretary Vilsack announced USDA is investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity. Projects from the second funding pool will be announced later this year. Ultimately, USDA’s anticipated investment will triple to more than $3 billion in pilots that will create market opportunities for American commodities produced using climate-smart production practices.

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Event

Secretary Vilsack spoke on USDA’s historic investment in Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities on September 14, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. eastern. You may view the event recording.

This funding opportunity is currently closed. Any general questions about Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities should be sent to climate-smart-commodities@usda.gov. Find answers to many frequently asked questions on our FAQs page.

USDA first announced details of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity in February 2022. The design of this opportunity was informed by over 400 comments received in the Request for Information published in September 2021. Through this new opportunity, USDA will finance partnerships to support the production and marketing of climate-smart commodities via a set of pilot projects lasting one to five years.

Funding for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will be delivered through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation in two pools. The 70 projects announced on September 14 are from the first funding pool, which included proposals seeking funds ranging from $5 million to $100 million. Access the full list of selected projects.

USDA will work with the applicants for these 70 identified projects to finalize the scope and funding levels in the coming months. These projects will:

  • Provide technical and financial assistance to producers to implement climate-smart production 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
  • Develop markets and promote the resulting climate-smart commodities.

USDA anticipates that these 70 projects will result in:

  • Hundreds of expanded markets and revenue streams for producers and commodities across agriculture ranging from traditional corn to specialty crops.
  • More than 50 thousand farms reached, encompassing over 20-25 million acres of working land engaged in climate-smart production practices such as cover crops, no-till and nutrient management.
  • More than 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent sequestered over the lives of the projects. This is equivalent to removing more than 10 million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles from the road for one year.
  • More than 50 universities, including multiple minority-serving institutions, engaged and helping advance projects, especially with outreach and monitoring, measurement, reporting and verification.
  • Proposals for the 70 selected projects include plans to match on average over 50% of the federal investment with nonfederal funds.

This infographic (PDF, 1.1 MB) includes additional metrics on projects from the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities first funding pool.

USDA is currently evaluating project proposals from the second Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding pool, which includes funding requests from $250,000 to $4,999,999. Projects from this second funding pool will emphasize the enrollment of small and/or underserved producers, and/or monitoring, reporting and verification activities developed at minority-serving institutions. USDA expects to announce these selections later this year.

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Project Summaries

Visit usda.gov/climate-solutions/climate-smart-commodities/projects for details on individual Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities projects grouped by approximate funding ceiling and location. You may download a complete list of project summaries (PDF, 424 KB).

Eligible Entities

The Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity is currently closed. A wide range of public and private entities were eligible to apply, including:

  • County, city or township governments.
  • Special district governments.
  • State governments.
  • Small businesses.
  • For-profit organizations other than small businesses.
  • Federally recognized Native American Tribal governments.
  • Native American Tribal organizations other than Federally recognized Tribal governments.
  • Nonprofits that have a 501(c)(3).
  • Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3).
  • Private institutions of higher education.
  • Public and State-controlled institutions of higher education.

Please note that agricultural producers and forest landowners may receive incentives through awarded projects via partner groups.

While grant agreements under this funding opportunity will be made with a single entity, USDA encouraged multiple partners to coordinate on project proposals.

In response to questions received from potential applicants, USDA provided additional clarity regarding requirements in the funding opportunity, including:

  • The definition of “domestic applicant”;
  • Producers’ eligibility as beneficiaries of the funding; and
  • Quantification requirements.

Frequently asked questions are available to help answer questions.

Pilot Projects and Climate-Smart Production Practices

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities pilot projects must focus on the on-farm, on-ranch, or forest production of climate-smart commodities and associated reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and/or carbon sequestration.

Highly competitive projects will include agricultural and forestry practices or combinations of practices, and/or practice enhancements that provide GHG benefits and/or carbon sequestration, including but not limited to:

For the purposes of this funding opportunity, a climate-smart commodity is defined as an agricultural commodity that is produced using farming, ranching or forestry practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon.
  • Cover crops
  • Low-till or no-till
  • Nutrient management
  • Enhanced efficiency fertilizers
  • Manure management
  • Feed management to reduce enteric emissions
  • Buffers, wetland and grassland management, and tree planting on working lands
  • Agroforestry and afforestation on working lands
  • Afforestation/reforestation and sustainable forest management
  • Planting for high carbon sequestration rate
  • Maintaining and improving forest soil quality
  • Increase on-site carbon storage through forest stand management
  • Alternate wetting and drying on rice fields
  • Climate-smart pasture practices, such as prescribed grazing or legume interseeding
  • Soil amendments, like biochar
Funding Pools and Proposal Deadlines

Funding for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities was provided in two funding pools. On March 11, USDA extended the deadlines to apply after requests from many stakeholders. USDA is committed to equity in delivery and will ensure that all projects in both funding pools benefit small and/or underserved producers. Projects were also encouraged to include early adopters.

  • First Funding Pool – CLOSED May 6, 2022
    Proposals from $5 million to $100 million are in the first funding pool and should include large-scale pilot projects that emphasize the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production and include direct, meaningful benefits to a representative cross-section of production agriculture, including small and/or underserved producers.
  • Second Funding Pool – CLOSED June 10, 2022
    Proposals from $250,000 to $4,999,999 are in the second funding pool and are limited to particularly innovative pilot projects. These projects should place an emphasis on:
    • Enrollment of small and/or underserved producers, and/or
    • Monitoring, reporting and verification activities developed at minority-serving institutions.
Application Process and Evaluation Criteria

Applicants must have submitted project proposals on Grants.gov by the appropriate funding pool deadline, as outlined under Funding Pools and Proposal Deadlines. Potential applicants were directed to the Grants.gov Organization Registration webpage for a complete set of instructions and initial steps.

Project proposals for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program included plans to:

  • Pilot implementation of climate-smart agriculture and/or forestry practices on a large-scale, including meaningful involvement of small or historically underserved producers;
  • Quantify, monitor, report, and verify climate results; and
  • Develop markets and promote climate-smart commodities generated as a result of project activities.

Greenhouse gas and/or carbon sequestration benefits and equity are key among project evaluation criteria. Projects must center around benefits to producers, and the meaningful inclusion of small and underserved producers is included in evaluation. Incentives to encourage producer participation are critical to project success. The Notice of Funding Opportunity includes a complete set of project proposal requirements, evaluation criteria, and submission guidelines.

Programmatic Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

Access the final Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) (PDF, 5 MB) and the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) (PDF, 255 KB).

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Learning Network

USDA intends to establish a “Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Learning Network” (Partnerships Network) to synthesize lessons-learned from Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities projects. A request for quote was issued on eBuy under the reference “RFQ1582412, Partnership Network Contract Materials” to provide support for the Partnership Network. Interested eligible parties were encouraged to submit bids by the September 6 deadline.

Project Coordination and Inquiries

Project Coordination

USDA hosted several “meet and greet” webinars in March and April 2022 to help support and encourage partnerships for proposal development.

Below is the participant registration information for each of those sessions (names and email addresses). USDA does not endorse any particular participant.

Producer Connections including Small/Historically Underserved Producers (PDF, 109 KB) – April 11, 2022
If you have producer connections you want to share, have ideas for engaging small and/or historically underserved producers, or if you are seeking partners with those connections/ideas for your proposal.

Measurement, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification and Climate-Smart Commodity Marketing (PDF, 116 KB) – April 11, 2022
If you have expertise in measurement, monitoring, reporting and/or verification, or climate-smart commodity marketing, or you are seeking that expertise for your proposal.

Producer Connections (PDF, 168 KB) – March 29, 2022
If you have producer connections you want to share or are seeking producer connections for your proposal.

Measurement, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (PDF, 167 KB) – March 29, 2022
If you have expertise in measurement, monitoring, reporting and/or verification or are seeking that expertise for your proposal.

Climate-Smart Commodity Marketing (PDF, 151 KB) – March 31, 2022
If you have expertise in climate-smart commodity marketing or are seeking that expertise for your proposal.

Engaging Small/Historically Underserved Producers (PDF, 160 KB) – March 31, 2022
If you have ideas for engaging small and/or historically underserved producers in a proposal or are seeking new ideas or partners with expertise in working with small and/or historically underserved producers.

Inquiries

Please contact Climate-Smart-Commodities@usda.gov with any general questions on Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities. Find answers to many frequently asked questions on our FAQs page.

Additional Resources