The USDA has announced its plans to filter $1 billion to support farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners implementing climate-smart conservation practices starting in April.
Officials define such "climate-smart conservation practices" as: “...agricultural commodities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon.”
Examples of this include:
Cover crops, low-till or no-till farming, agroforestry, rotational grazing, and reforestation
The USDA claims to seek a broad spectrum of producers... "...to see themselves in this effort, including small and historically underserved producers."
Agricultural Secretary Vilsack has promised to allot special attention to growers who have previously been "underserved," though experts fear his words will not reflect the actual process of distribution.
Funding is expected to be released in two rounds, one in April and another in late May.
So, what does this mean for the average consumer?
In all, there is reason to feel cautiously optimistic about the USDA's announcement to prioritize smaller growing facilities.
Government aid has not favored small-scale producers in the past, explaining experts' distrust as to whether the USDA will follow through as promised.
Time will tell whether these promises will be kept or broken. In the meantime, our passion for supporting the farmers who feed us will continue on.
Article by Local Roots contributor Jess Santoro // @jess_santoro
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