USDA announced Wednesday it will invest up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first pool of funding for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says farmers had a lot of input into developing the partnerships.
“We listened to farmers, ranchers, and producers. And they told us, in terms of establishing this program, that they felt the need for a series of pilot programs. They wanted it to be voluntary. They wanted it to be incentive and market driven. They wanted innovative ways to measure, quantify, and verify results. They wanted us to support partnerships and collaboration, and they believed that it could be funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation.”
Pennsylvania Republican GT Thompson, ranking member of the House Ag Committee, disagrees with the money coming from the Commodity Credit Corporation, a government-owned and operated entity that was created to stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices.
“Seems like the department is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole to avail yourselves of the CCC authorities and funds,” Thompson said in a House Ag subcommittee meeting back in March when the program was initially announced. “And frankly, to me, this looks like a conservation program dressed up as a marketing program.”
In a statement Wednesday, Thompson says, “The Biden Administration is unilaterally spending billions of dollars without Congressional input. While I am sure there are worthy projects, USDA is abusing the authorities of the Commodity Credit Corporation to stand up a ‘pilot program’ while ignoring the significant issues facing farmers and ranchers. It’s as though Secretary Vilsack is intent on having Congress once again limit his ability to use the CCC.”
Vilsack explains what the funding will be used for in each of the 70 identified project recipients.
“The resources will be used to provide assistance for technical and financial assistance and to implement climate-smart practices on private working lands and forested areas. They will pay for and encourage pilot projects that are innovative and cost effective that also include methods for quantifying, monitoring, reporting, and verifying greenhouse-gas benefits and carbon-sequestration benefits. And they’ll help to develop and expand markets for climate-smart commodities.”
USDA will work with applicants for the 70 projects to finalize the scope and funding levels in the coming months. Approved projects for a second round of funding will be announced later this year. More information can be found at usda.gov.
Source: NAFB News Service