US in $3 billion climate funding for agriculture

The US Department of Agriculture will invest nearly $3 billion in projects to reduce climate-harming emissions from farming and forestry, the agency announced this week.

The investment is part of a broader effort by the administration of President Joe Biden to decarbonise the US economy within decades and make the United States a leader in the fight against global climate change.

Farming currently generates nearly 10% of US greenhouse gas emissions, according to Environmental Protection Agency data.

“This will allow the US agriculture and forest industry to take a leadership role internationally,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.”This is a really big day for American agriculture.”

The programme will fund 70 projects across 50 states and Puerto Rico that would encourage farmers to cut emissions in various ways. This would include planting cover crops to enhance soil health and absorb carbon, improving manure management to cut methane emissions, and collecting data on environmentally friendly beef and bison grazing practices.

USDA previously announced in February that it would spend $1 billion on the effort, which it dubbed the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities programme, so the latest move effectively triples the funding. 

After receiving 1,050 applications requesting more than $20 billion in funding – far more than the agency anticipated – it turned to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for more money, Vilsack said.

The CCC is a pool of funds provided by the US Treasury to support the farming economy.

The projects announced will receive $2.8 billion and range in size from $5 million to $100 million. The private sector has pledged an additional $1.4 billion for the projects, Vilsack said.

The agency said it will announce a second round of funding later this year for additional climate-related projects.