Colorado State University was the backdrop for US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of $ 3 billion for new investments in drought response, prevention animal diseases and the supply chain.
Vilsack unveiled federal funding, along with a plan to foster climate-smart income streams for agricultural producers and forest land owners, in a speech Wednesday at CSU’s Lory Student Center. Vilsack’s speech was part of the Salazar Center for North American Conservation’s International Symposium on Conservation Impact, a virtual symposium also featuring remarks by US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, President of the Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory and former Vice President Al Gore.
Between his two terms as USDA Secretary, Vilsack served as Strategic Advisor for Food and Water Initiatives at CSU Spur for the Colorado State University System. His appearance at CSU comes after the Biden administration announced a new “30×30” goal to increase conservation of US lands and waters by 30% by 2030.
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The Commodity Credit Corp. USDA will fund the projects Vilsack outlined in his speech. They will target three challenges: drought damage to the livelihoods of agricultural producers, supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the arrival of African swine fever in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. .
The funding envelope includes the following:
- Up to $ 1.5 billion to help schools cope with food supply chain disruptions. The goal is “to do what we can to ease the bottleneck at our ports, and also to help our schools continue to feed our children healthy and nutritious meals,” said Vilsack. The money will finance purchases of agricultural products and assistance to the USDA’s food and nutrition service and agricultural marketing service.
- $ 500 million for drought recovery and incentives for agricultural producers to adopt water efficiency and conservation practices.
- $ 500 million to alleviate disruptions in the agricultural market, addressing issues such as transportation issues and limited availability of materials.
- Up to $ 500 million to limit the spread of African swine fever in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which Vilsack described as a serious threat to American pig farmers. The funds will help expand control, quarantine and surveillance.
Vilsack stressed that “USDA’s work on climate-smart agriculture and forestry will be led by farmers, ranchers and foresters.”
“Because after all, climate-smart agriculture and forestry just has to work for our farmers, for our ranchers and forest owners, or it won’t work for our climate,” he added.
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To this end, USDA is seeking input from agricultural producers, forest owners and other stakeholders on a new climate-smart partnership initiative. The initiative, which will also be funded by Commodity Credit Corp., is an effort to lower the barrier for producers to invest in new climate-smart commodities and practices.
“The goal is to intensify the deployment of climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices while improving our understanding of how best to monitor, measure and track the effects of these practices on greenhouse gases,” a- he declared.
As part of the partnership, farm groups, businesses, states and other non-profit entities would help farmers, ranchers and forest owners apply new practices or produce new products with funding from the l ‘USDA to help with the effort and cushion any financial risk that producers might face in new territory.
Examples of relevant funding could include assistance to dairy farmers seeking to reduce manure emissions, support for the development of biofuels (which produce around 30-40% of greenhouse gas emissions produced by gasoline), or support for producers seeking to quantify greenhouse gases. reduced benefits of organic farming, said Vilsack.
“This initiative that we are launching will place great importance on accurate greenhouse gas accounting,” said Vilsack. “This is absolutely vital if we are to build consumer confidence in these emerging products and markets.”
To share your feedback on the USDA’s design of the new initiative, visit federalregister.gov and search for File ID: USDA-2021-0010. The USDA is seeking comments specifically on:
- The current state of climate-smart commodity markets
- Quantification systems
- Options and evaluation criteria
- Use of information collected
- Potential protocols
- Review and verification options
- Inclusion of historically underserved communities
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Jacy Marmaduke covers government liability for Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support his work and that of other Colorado journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.