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Regional climate-smart commodities projects share in $2.8B USDA grants

While South Dakota State University was designated as a lead partner for one project, groups and organizations from Minnesota and North Dakota were also granted major partner status in other projects.

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BROOKINGS, S.D. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week the investment of $2.8 billion toward 70 various projects to develop climate-smart commodities in an effort to benefit environmentally friendly farmers, ranchers and landowners — some of which involve groups from the Dakotas and Minnesota.

The Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity was first announced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in February, who said the program would finance pilot projects that create market opportunities for U.S. agricultural and forestry products that use climate-smart practices and include innovative, cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse gas benefits.

After an early-2022 submission period garnered hundreds of proposals, Vilsack on Wednesday announced 70 projects that were awarded funding.

Spanning up to five years, the 70 projects will:

  • Provide technical and financial assistance to producers to implement climate-smart production practices on a voluntary basis on working land;
  • 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.

South Dakota State University to head up $80M project

The largest grant awarded to South Dakota State University since its founding in 1881, researchers at the college were given a funding ceiling of $80 million.

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Entitled “The Grass is Greener on the Other Side: Developing Climate-Smart Beef and Bison Commodities,” SDSU’s project will create market opportunities for beef and bison producers who utilize climate-smart agriculture grazing and land-management practices. The project will guide and educate producers on climate-smart practices most suited for their operations, manage large-scale climate-smart data that will be used by producers to improve decision-making and create market demand for climate-smart beef/bison commodity markets.

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Contributed / U.S. Department of Agriculture

“As a researcher and administrator, this is a wonderful opportunity to be involved in a project that has such an impact on our state and the region,” said Kristi Cammack, project lead and director of SDSU West River Research and Extension. “The livestock industry is a major driver of the overall economic health of South Dakota. The work we will be doing through the climate-smart commodities project will ensure the industry continues to grow and thrive for generations to come. I am excited for our SDSU team to begin working with the tremendous partners we have and help make a difference for South Dakotans and others across the country."

SDSU was one of just six universities to be listed as a lead partner of any project that received $50 million or more in funding. Other universities serving as lead partners for their projects include: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Clemson University, Texas A&M Agrilife Research, Regents of the University of Idaho and Oregon State University.

“This is a historic day for South Dakota State University and the state of South Dakota,” said Daniel Scholl, SDSU’s vice president for research and economic development. “These types of investments in research are vital to helping solve the complex issues of today and answer questions that plague our society. The trust the USDA has in our project and our partners to invest at this level only shows the work that is being done at our university and the quality of our faculty and students to conduct this type of research."

Other major partners on SDSU’s project include Millborn Seeds, Buffalo Ridge Cattle Company, AgSpire, Tanka Fund, Cold Creek Buffalo Company, SDSU Extension, the SDSU Center of Excellence for Bison Studies, the National Bison Association, Texas A&M University, Yard Stick, C-Lock and SmartScore.ai.

SDSU was also named a major partner for the “GEVO Climate-Smart Farm-to-Flight Program,” which aims to create critical structural climate-smart market incentives for low carbon-intensity corn as well as to accelerate the production of sustainable aviation fuel to reduce the sector’s dependency on fossil-based fuel.

Buffers of grass that filter crop land pollutants and soil out of water are required by Minnesota law. Submitted photo / Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Buffers of grass that filter crop land pollutants and soil out of water are required by Minnesota law.
Contributed / Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Minnesota, N.D. groups named major partners in $80M ag price-floor, conservation project

Four groups from Minnesota and North Dakota plus one state entity and were named as major partners in a Virginia-based project that aims to support agricultural products while creating market opportunities and enhancing soil, water and the climate.

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The Rural Investment to Protect our Environment Partnership looks to build climate-smart markets for a variety of agricultural commodities and help to make adopting climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices more economically viable for producers by compensating them at a rate that guarantees and reasonable return, with a price floor that surpasses costs.

The USDA provided a funding ceiling of $80 million.

Though the project is being led by Virginia Polytechnic and State University, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, Minnesota Soil Health Coalition, Minnesota and North Dakota Farmers Unions and Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association are among the over a dozen major partners involved.

The project is expected to primarily impact Minnesota, North Dakota, Arkansas and Virginia.

Summaries of all 70 projects and their partners can be found below.

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021. After over a year in Mitchell, he moved to Milwaukee, where he now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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