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Title:As the USDA Invests in “Climate-Smart” Agriculture, It’s Hard to Follow the Money
Date:12/8/2022 6:19:28 PM

Agriculture is responsible for emitting around 11 percent of all global warming pollution in the United States - roughly the annual equivalent of 141.75 million cars. If this country is to meet its climate targets, it is imperative that public and private investments be made that will help shift the agriculture sector to climate-friendly practices that reduce heat-trapping emissions.

In September, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $2.8 billion in funding for “climate-smart” commodities, defined as an agricultural product produced using farming, ranching, or forestry practices that reduce heat-trapping emissions or sequester carbon. These grants will support pilot projects intended to increase production of, and spur demand for, products grown in ways that have measurable climate benefits. This is a step in the right direction toward fulfilling the Biden administration’s promise to address climate change and reduce emissions from agriculture.

Here at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), my colleague Dr. Alice Reznickova and I embarked on the task of analyzing who received money from the program, how much, and for what. It was more difficult than we expected.

The biggest challenge to understanding where the USDA is investing this $2.8 billion was a lack of detailed data. The USDA publicly released a description of each project, the overall funding, targeted commodities, and key partners. However, no project details, description, or proposals were available to review that would describe the role of each partner in the project or the amount of funding each will receive. This missing information is critical for third parties to understand whether these proposals are scientifically sound and equitable.

Overall, the USDA funded 70 projects, with the highest funding award of between $70 million and $90 million going to 14 projects focusing on conservation, improving farmers’ access to technical and...

Organization:Union of Concerned Scientists - Food and Agriculture
Date Added:12/9/2022 6:37:23 AM