ATLANTA, January 10, 2022 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $ 50 million in 118 partnerships to expand access to conservation assistance for climate-smart agriculture and forestry. The Equity Conservation Cooperation Agreements, administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will fund two-year projects to expand the provision of conservation assistance to start-up farmers. in agriculture, low income, socially disadvantaged or military veterans. The projects will support the broader USDA effort to address climate change and equitable access to programs.
“We are committed to providing equal opportunity for those we serve, and we are taking bold and historic steps to advance fairness and eradicate generations of systemic racism,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These partnerships are another example of how we are helping to ensure that historically underserved producers can access and participate more fully in our programs and services. As we said before: Equity will be a critical part of our work on climate change, as the farmers and rural communities of the United States are on the front lines of climate change. Our work with producers and partners will invest in climate-smart solutions that improve profitability and resilience, open up new market opportunities and create wealth that remains in rural communities.
The program encourages new partnerships and the development of state and community conservation leadership for historically underserved producers, with projects focusing on one or more of the following key conservation priorities:
- Improve soil health and water quality;
- Provide habitat for endangered wildlife;
- Improve natural resources and the productivity of agricultural land; and or
- Build and strengthen local and regional food systems and markets.
Partnerships include the Federation of Southern Co-operatives / Land Assistance Fund and McIntosh for Environment Sustainability and Economic Development (SEED). Partnership with Federation of Southern Cooperatives / Land Assistance Fund expands Regional Agroforestry Center (RAFC) to include climate-smart agriculture, participation in conservation easements, heir property consultations , forest management plans and certifications and youth placement in Alabama, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. In addition, a regional community forest justice initiative (RCFJI) will provide forest owners with limited resources with conservation education, technical assistance and a climate smart vision for their lands.
The McIntosh Sustainable Environment and Economic Development (SEED) will help historically underserved producers implement natural resource conservation and climate-smart farming practices. They will work with producers to strengthen their marketing skills, access new markets and cooperate in producing and selling. In addition, SEED will engage historically underserved youth in 24 climate-affected and economically struggling Georgia counties through outreach and education, providing them with access to technical assistance, certifications and internships. youth from the NRCS.
See the full list of partnerships.
These partnerships are part of USDA’s broader efforts to address inequities in program delivery. Today, USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) also announced plans to invest $ 2 million in risk management education for historically underserved, small-scale producers. This doubles the successful RMA’s $ 1 million investment in 2021. Also in 2021, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) invested $ 4.7 million to establish 56 partnerships with organizations to provide assistance and technical assistance to historically underserved farmers and herders.
The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the American food system with a greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in communities. rural America, and a commitment to equity department-wide by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.