U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing up to $385 million in nine projects that will benefit Maine’s forest products and agriculture industries while helping to combat climate change.
The grants, which were awarded under the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity, will be used to support pilot programs that will create market opportunities for American commodities produced using climate-smart production practices. These initial projects will expand markets for climate-smart commodities; leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production; and provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture, including for small and underserved producers.
“By supporting innovative and environmentally friendly logging and farming practices as well as expanding market opportunities, this funding is a win-win for producers as well as our climate,” said Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Golden in a joint statement. “We are particularly pleased that USDA is investing in two projects that are being spearheaded in Maine. This funding will allow Wolfe’s Neck Farm to launch an initiative to help farmers implement climate-smart techniques and access the marketplace for climate-smart commodities. Moreover, this funding will benefit our forest products industry by supporting the New England Forestry Foundation’s effort to help landowners and loggers improve forest health and market locally-grown, healthy, low-carbon building materials. In addition to mitigating the impact of climate change, these projects will provide substantial economic benefits to our rural communities.”
Two of the projects with a direct impact on Maine include:
- $35,000,000 for Wolfe's Neck Farm’s initiative to promote climate-smart agriculture (CSA), particularly for beef, dairy, wheat, rice, and specialty crops. This project will develop the tools and approaches necessary to catalyze change by: equipping and training technical service providers for CSA implementation, creating transition finance incentives for producers, and developing a robust and self-sustaining marketplace for climate-smart commodities.
- $30,000,000 for the New England Forestry Foundation’s New England Climate-Smart Forest Partnership Project. This project will implement forest management practices with large commercial producers and smaller woodlot owners to store more carbon in the forest, quantify the resulting carbon gains, and build markets for climate-smart forest products to store carbon in wood products and substitute wood products for fossil fuel-based materials.
“We are grateful to the Maine Delegation for their support of our project,” said Alec Giffen with the New England Forestry Foundation. “In our view, this is a transformational opportunity to pay landowners and loggers for practices that will both mitigate climate change and improve productivity of the land while benefitting wildlife.”
Funding for other projects that cover multiple states, including Maine, and will support Maine farmers include:
- $90,000,000 for a project that will leverage a network of 3,000 conservation districts throughout the nation to grow and advance grassroots efforts to ensure producers and local communities are prepared to meet the demand and have access to climate-smart commodity markets.
- $60,000,000 for a project that will build climate-smart markets and increase capital investments in tree planting that will increase the supply of agroforestry commodities utilizing a network of leaders in forestry. Working directly with manufacturers and retailers to connect potential buyers with producers.
- $55,000,000 for a project that will bring together 20 farming and agroforestry organizations, serving over 20,000 small to mid-scale and underserved farmers who are uniquely impacted by climate change. The project will include soil health and financial benchmark community science; peer-to-peer learning and support; expanded implementation of climate-smart practices; carbon benefits calculation and verification; and, income stream innovations that result in increased sales from farms and forest lands that use and promote climate-smart practices.
- $45,000,000 for a project that will help dairy farmers reduce methane emissions and sequester carbon while receiving credit for doing so. Through this project, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) climate-smart pilots will directly connect the on-farm greenhouse gas reductions with the low-carbon dairy market opportunity. DFA will use its cooperative business model to ensure that the collective financial benefits are captured at the farm, creating a compelling opportunity to establish a powerful self-sustaining circular economy model benefiting U.S. agriculture.
- $35,000,000 for a multi-year project that will pilot, test, and evaluate how the supply chain can be optimized for value and climate performance from farm and ranch to markets, starting with the greenhouse gas benefits of grazing systems.
- $25,000,000 for a project to expand climate-smart markets and help finance partnerships and incentivize farmers to advance the Organic Valley Carbon Insetting Program. The funding will support two strategies to reduce supply chain emissions: mitigate GHG emissions and maximize opportunities for carbon sequestration, focusing specifically on dairy and eggs as the climate-smart commodities.
- $10,000,000 for a project that will help to implement climate-smart methods in beef production, reducing GHG emissions and generating carbon credit revenue for producers.