WASHINGTON, DC, US — US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack unveiled a $2.8 billion investment in 70 chosen projects under the first round of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding program. A second funding pool will come later this year.

“There is strong and growing interest in the private sector and among consumers for food that is grown in a climate-friendly way,” Vilsack said. “Through today’s announcement of initial selections for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, USDA is delivering on our promise to build and expand these market opportunities for American agriculture and be global leaders in climate-smart agricultural production. This effort will increase the competitive advantage of US agriculture both domestically and internationally, build wealth that stays in rural communities and support a diverse range of producers and operation types.”

More than 450 project proposals were submitted during the first funding round from over 350 entities. After reviewing the proposals, the USDA tripled its investment from the initial $1 billion announced earlier this year.

“Because of the unprecedented demand and interest in the program, and potential for meaningful opportunities to benefit producers through the proposals, the Biden-Harris administration increased the total funding allocation to more than $3 billion,” the agency said.

Applicants for the first round included nonprofit organizations, for-profits, government entities, farmer cooperatives, energy and environmental groups, universities, small businesses and large corporations.

Spanning up to five years, the selected projects will receive anywhere from $5 million to $100 million. According to the USDA, applicants reported plans to match on average 50% of granted funds with nonfederal funds.

Stuttgart, Arkansas, US-based Riceland Foods is one of the company’s receiving funding. In partnership with Winrock International, Arva Intelligence, Blue Raster and the Intertribal Agriculture Council, Riceland Foods received $20 million from the USDA to create a farmer-friendly system to support adoption of climate-smart practices and interact with commodity buyers in climate-smart markets. The funds will help Riceland build a farmer-focused asset registry system for data collection, benefit quantification, verification and farmer compensation.

“Today’s announcement reinforces Riceland’s Ingrain Good Carbon Ready Initiative adds value for our farmer members,” said Jason Brancel, president and chief executive officer of Riceland. “We are excited about this opportunity to work collectively with USDA in our efforts to reward farmers for climate-smart agronomic agricultural practices, and we appreciate the confidence that has been shown in our ability to deliver results.”

A full list of the selected projects can be found at www.usda.gov/climate-smart-commodities.