Growing interest in climate-smart farms despite cost concerns

May 20, 2024


The number of farms participating in the administration's climate-smart agriculture grant program is on the rise. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Wednesday that the program could reach as many as 20,000 farms by the end of 2024.

Vilsack addressed the Organic Trade Association, highlighting the program's progress. The $3.5 billion initiative, though attracting criticism from some congressional Republicans, aims to integrate agriculture into climate change solutions.

"We've seen tremendous interest," Vilsack said, noting that existing contracts already encompass over 10 million acres of farmland and forests. "We anticipate that number to continue growing in the coming years."

These grants are awarded to universities, industry groups, and other organizations that contribute additional funding and recruit farmers. Participating farmers utilize practices that minimize greenhouse gas emissions while producing various agricultural goods, including crops, livestock, and timber.

The resulting products can then be marketed as "climate-smart" to gauge consumer interest in environmentally conscious agricultural products.

While the program is gaining traction, it has faced opposition from some Republicans who question the cost-effectiveness of such a large-scale initiative. The USDA views it as a crucial step towards making agriculture a part of the climate change solution.

The program incentivizes farmers to adopt practices that benefit the environment, potentially leading to a more sustainable agricultural future.

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