Land O’Lakes’ sustainability business Truterra has won a bid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) funding of Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities that aim to support the transition of U.S. agriculture and food industries to climate-friendly production and food supply.
The company is one of 70 recipients of USDA’s first pool of funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners, including small and underserved producers.
USDA is investing up to $2.8 billion into the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity, with the second funding pool to take place later this year. The first funding round included proposals seeking between $5 million and $100 million. The second round will focus on investments from $250,000 to $4,999,999.
Truterra, in conjunction with its partners, plans to reduce GHG emissions by about 7.2 million metric tons of carbon over five years – equivalent to removing 1.5 million cars off the streets in a year. The company and its partners bring with them in-depth experience in agricultural production and access to infrastructure, as well as access to farmers across the country.
“Land O’Lakes, along with AFT and other grant partners, is ready to tackle what is fundamentally a connection problem in the current climate-smart commodities market,” said Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford. “We want to close those gaps by creating a self-sustaining ecosystem that connects farmers already doing incredible work to support sustainability on their operations with the food and agriculture companies looking to buy those products, all while addressing cost, risk, and knowledge barriers to regenerative agriculture practice adoption.”
Truterra says it plans to engage up to 20,000 farmers and dairy producers andi mpact 7 million acres as it focuses on underserved farmers. One of the purposes is to incentivize farmers to use regenerative agriculture practices. In addition, farmers will receive agronomic advice, access peer-to-peer networks, and receive various other help to improve soil health systems. Truterra’s sustainability tool will help measure impact and validate and quantify various processes. Over time, the project is expected to become self-funding.
“American Farmland Trust is thrilled to join forces with Truterra to scale up climate-smart practices across this nation’s agricultural lands, creating economic and resilience benefits for farmers and ranchers and environmental benefits for society and the planet,” said Beth Sauerhaft, AFT vice president of national programs. “We look forward to collaborating to scale up on-farm adoption of soil health management systems, packaging pilot program outcomes for broader public consumption and in particular delivering culturally appropriate materials to underserved audiences.”
Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will be funded via USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation. The Department of Agriculture received over 450 proposals from more than 350 entities for its first funding pool. Applicants included nonprofits, small businesses, large corporations, government entities, farmer cooperatives, environmental groups, state and tribal governments, and universities. The geographical area covers all 50 states, tribal lands, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
Projects include innovative finance mechanisms across 30 states to accelerate climate-smart practices and scaling methane emissions reductions and soil carbon sequestration in the dairy market.
Funding will also go toward building climate-smart markets, streamlining data collection, and developing climate-smart beef and bison agriculture grazing and land management. In addition, climate-smart markets will be created for timber and forest products, and investment will go into the nation’s forest estate recovery.
USDA estimates the impact on producers and communities will be multifold. It expects the creation of hundreds of expanded markets and revenue streams, reaching over 50,000 farms and encompassing more than 20-25 million acres of working the land for climate-smart production and sequestering over 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Over 50 universities, including multiple minority-serving institutions, will be engaged in the projects. Over 50% of the federal investment will be matched with non-federal funds.
“There is strong and growing interest in the private sector and among consumers for food grown in a climate-friendly way,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Through today’s initial selections for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, USDA is delivering on our promise to build and expand these market opportunities for American agriculture and be global leaders in climate-smart agricultural production. This effort will increase the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture both domestically and internationally, build wealth that stays in rural communities and support a diverse range of producers and operation types.”