The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week it will triple its investment in efforts to reduce emissions from agriculture. The USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program will dole out nearly $3 billion to projects that provide incentives for sustainable farming and forestry practices.
This is the Biden administration’s latest big investment in what it calls “climate-smart” agriculture. So, what exactly does that mean?
“We’re trying to figure that out,” said Jonathan Coppess, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, who said this grant program is part of the process. It received over 1,000 applications, and 70 have made the cut.
“The competitive nature that’s pretty intense in agriculture, in farming amongst farmers, if we begin to concentrate it on these sorts of outcomes …” he said, then maybe we can find some new ways to reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint.
Right now, the industry is responsible for 11% of total U.S. emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“There’s a lot of potential to make up for agriculture’s historical emissions,” said Cathy Day with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
But she said the industry has a lot more work to do to rein in its contributions to climate change.