Bloomington, ILL – September 22, 2022 – The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) applauds U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and the Biden Administration on the recent announcement of the recipients of USDA climate-smart agricultural grants in support of expanding markets for America’s climate-smart commodities.
The USDA will invest up to $2.8 billion in 70 projects under the first funding opportunity, with projects from a second funding pool to be announced later this year.
Of the 70 funded projects, 13 in the first round of funding will operate in Illinois, incentivizing Illinois growers to implement climate-smart practices for row crop production, animal agriculture, and forestry.
“We are excited to see the growth and expansion of the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund (SWOF),” said ISA Agronomy Programs Manager, Megan Miller. “SWOF received $95 million to expand programming into 12 states through their project, Midwest Climate-Smart Commodity Program.”
SWOF provides payment for the multiple environmental outcomes of new conservation practices on farms. These outcomes include water quality improvements and carbon sequestration.
“We also congratulate Precision Conservation Management (PCM) and Field to Market, and the partners of the Farmers for Soil Health program on their successful proposals,” said ISA Board Chairman, Steve Pitstick. “These programs will provide farmers the opportunity to trial conservation practices by reducing the financial risk of practice implementation”
The majority of funding is intended to go directly to producers to encourage their participation; farmers should expect to hear about opportunities to voluntarily enroll in these pilot projects from the private sector project partners, not from USDA. Enrollment in these projects does not require participation in a USDA conservation program, though producers already receiving Natural Resources Conservation Service funding also will be able to participate in these pilots.
“In preparation for this funding announcement, the ISA checkoff program funded projects including technical assistance and cost-share for conservation practice implementation, research for understanding cover-crop and no-till management, and the carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus footprints of row crop production in Illinois,” said ISA Director of Agronomy, Abigail Peterson.
The total investment in pilots that create market opportunities for all American commodities produced using climate-smart production practices could total $3 billion, which is triple Secretary Vilsack’s original announcement earlier in the year. More than 450 project proposals were submitted from over 350 groups this go-round.
A complete list of projects identified for the first round of funding is available at usda.gov/climate-smart-commodities (https://www.usda.gov/climate-solutions/climate-smart-commodities) . Additional information is available in the USDA FAQ here: https://www.usda.gov/climate-solutions/climate-smart-commodities/faqs.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development and utilization efforts while the membership program supports the government relations interests of Illinois soybean farmers at the local, state, and national level, through the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG). ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, and education with the vision of becoming a market leader in sustainable soybean production and profitability. For more information, visit the website www.www.ilsoy.org and www.ilsoygrowers.com.