USDA extends US$80m grant to Virginia Tech College to support adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices

US- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted Virginia Tech College $US80 million to run a program that rewards farmers that adopt climate-smart practices.

The project attempts to increase production while lowering greenhouse gas emissions from household farms.

According to its research, the USDA is seeking environmentally friendly ways to feed the growing world population, which is predicted to reach more than nine billion people by 2050.

The USDA states it is “delivering on our promise to build and expand these market opportunities for American agriculture and be global leaders in climate-smart agricultural production,” says Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary at USDA.

The pilot program is scheduled to run for three years in Virginia, Arkansas, Minnesota, and North Dakota.

Virginia Tech will directly give at least US$54 million to producers to assist farmers in implementing climate-smart agriculture methods for crop and animal production.

The program could help producers reduce agricultural emissions by 55% after ten years if nationally scaled.

Only approximately 3% of farmers presently participate in carbon reduction programs, thus as many as 80% of farming producers may be registered nationally.

“This pilot project provides a plan for investing in rural communities and supporting agricultural producers who deliver environmental benefits through their climate-smart production practices,” states Matt Lohr, secretary of agriculture and forestry at Virginia Tech.

This pilot program is at the core of our land-grant mission as we strive to serve our communities by investing our time and knowledge to help them thrive both now and for generations to come

Alan Grant, Virginia Tech dean Tweet

Virginia Tech emphasizes its support for diversity and inclusion when choosing which producers to include in the program with college researchers developing a model that picks members.

“This pilot program is at the core of our land-grant mission as we strive to serve our communities by investing our time and knowledge to help them thrive both now and for generations to come,” says Alan Grant, Virginia Tech dean.

Farmers will receive payments of US$100 per acre or animal unit for each of those activities that adopt climate-smart practices that provide benefits to the public environment.

The USDA has a global beneficial impact with seven newly funded Food for Progress projects in 2022 in addition to 41 projects currently underway in 38 countries.

The USDA is overhauling America’s food system under the Biden-Harris administration by putting more emphasis on resilient local and regional food production.

The agency is also encouraging competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities and making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capacity.

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