U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today applauded more than $24 million for 16 projects that integrate innovative conservation practices to help farmers combat the climate crisis and create opportunities to build future carbon markets through soil health initiatives. The funding comes from the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill’s On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials – a new component of Conservation Innovation Grants – which Stabenow championed to expand climate-smart agriculture.
“While the climate crisis poses a major threat to agriculture, farmers are rising to the challenge to be part of the solution,” said Senator Stabenow. “The Farm Bill invested in these climate-smart projects to help farmers adopt conservation practices that sequester carbon and improve sustainability.”
Over half of the awards are for the landmark Soil Health Demonstration Trials, which help farmers increase and monitor the amount of carbon in their soil. By measuring the carbon levels, this new approach could be the foundation for creating carbon markets that could provide a new revenue stream for farmers, all while helping to curb the climate crisis.
Grant recipients will work with farmers across 22 states to expand cutting-edge conservation practices that are not widely used by producers. Awardees then evaluate the conservation and economic outcomes from their projects, giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture important information to inform future conservation work. The nine Soil Health Demonstration Trial projects keep carbon out of the air and in the soil through cover crops, reduced tillage, and other soil management practices. The other seven projects focus on irrigation water management, precision agriculture to reduce emissions, and other management technologies that help producers adapt to a changing climate.
Examples of Soil Health Demonstration Trial projects include:
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation received $3,000,000 for a project in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, and Utah to partner with Danone North America to build holistic soil health management systems on dairy farms across different growing regions to assess the potential for return on investment and environmental outcomes.
The bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, which Stabenow co-authored, enacted the most ambitious and bipartisan climate-smart agriculture policies to date with the support of 87 Senators. In addition to the On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, the bill improved crop insurance, working lands conservation programs, renewable energy investments, and forest health initiatives to help producers address the climate crisis.
“National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is thrilled to expand and enhance our work with Michigan farmers via partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Danone. This innovative approach will deliver multiple benefits to enhance regional economic vitality and sustainability while also meaningfully improving soil health and water quality,“ said Aislinn Gauchay, Great Lakes Program Director for National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
“Wide-scale adoption of soil health practices can best mitigate the production pressures of a changing climate. Soil Health Partnership, a program of the National Corn Growers Association, supports farmers as they strive for better soil health and this new funding from USDA will provide the assistance needed to try new practices and conduct on-farm research leading to answers to questions farmers have about implementing new conservation practices like cover crops and reduced tillage,” said John Mesko, Senior Director for Soil Health Partnership.