Vilsack highlights USDA’s climate initiatives and investments at COP27
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, EGYPT — At the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack highlighted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s initiatives and investments in climate smart agriculture and forestry, noting that global food security depends upon the ability of farmers and producers worldwide to increase their productivity while strengthening their climate resilience and minimizing their climate impacts.
“As we face down the dual crises of climate change and food insecurity, USDA recognizes that changes to our agriculture and food systems can only happen at the needed scale and speed if farmers are at the center of our solutions,” Vilsack said. “Under the Biden-Harris administration, the United States is making unprecedented investments in innovative approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
USDA is proud to play a pivotal role through our new partnerships for climate smart commodities, once in a generation investments through the inflation reduction act and other initiatives that position American agriculture as a leader in delivering climate solutions through voluntary, incentive-based, market driven and collaborative approaches. It was an honor to highlight at COP27 the administration’s leadership role and that of American agriculture in tackling the climate crisis.”
Partnerships for climate smart commodities
Vilsack used the international platform of COP27 to showcase the partnerships for climate smart commodities, through which USDA is investing in new revenue streams for America’s climate smart farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. These projects will expand markets for climate smart commodities, leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate smart production and provide direct, meaningful benefits to agriculture, including for small and underserved producers.
At numerous COP27 events, Vilsack highlighted USDA’s initial $2.8 billion investment in 70 pilot projects from the first funding pool that will deliver significant benefits for producers and communities in all 50 U.S. states. The projects will result in the application of climate smart production practices on more than 25 million acres of working land, with expanded market opportunities and revenue streams for producers of all sizes and types. All of these projects require meaningful involvement by underserved producers.
Vilsack announced that USDA will direct an additional $300 million to the second pool of pilot projects by the end of the year, bringing USDA’s total expected investment to $3.1 billion. More than 65 additional projects will focus on enrolling small and underserved producers, as well as on methods to be developed at minority serving institutions for monitoring, reporting and verifying the benefits of climate smart agricultural practices.
“Small and underserved producers are at the frontlines of the worst impacts of climate change around the world. At the same time, there is enormous and growing market demand for agricultural goods that are produced in a sustainable, climate smart way. Our goal is to expand markets for climate smart commodities and make sure that small and underserved producers reap the benefits of these market opportunities,” Vilsack said.
International climate hub
“As USDA and our partners worldwide invest in new programs and innovations around climate, we recognize that sharing information on successes, challenges and approaches can have broad global benefits. A sustained commitment to learning and action among the international community will be critical to accelerating the uptake of proven climate smart agriculture and forestry practices,” Vilsack said.
As part of USDA’s commitment, Vilsack announced that USDA will establish an international climate hub, modeled after USDA’s domestic climate hubs, which serve as the premier model for developing and delivering science-based, region specific information and technologies to U.S. agricultural managers to enable climate informed decision making. The international climate hub will provide information and resources tailored to specific regions and needs including a focus on the countries and producers most vulnerable to the effects of global climate change. The hub will leverage results and innovations generated via USDA’s domestic and international programs and initiatives, including the partnerships for climate smart commodities pilot projects.
Global fertilizer challenge
Earlier this year, President Biden invited world leaders to join the United States in the global fertilizer challenge, with a goal of raising $100 million in support by COP27. Today, Vilsack joined special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry in announcing the United States’ $25 million commitment to the challenge which includes:
• $20 million for the fertilize right initiative, through which USDA will work with governments and local organizations worldwide to advance fertilizer efficiency and nutrient management, starting with Brazil, Colombia, Pakistan and Vietnam.
• $5 million for the efficient fertilizer consortium, to be established by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and implemented in partnership with AIM for Climate, to advance applied research on efficient fertilizer products and practices in collaboration with the private sector.
“Simply put, farmers need nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to grow crops. But lack of access to fertilizer hampers productivity in many low-income countries, while in most major economies more than 50% of fertilizer fails to reach the intended crop. The adoption of innovative and efficient fertilizer and cropping practices will alleviate pressure on supplies, lower nitrous oxide emissions and reduce food insecurity globally,” Vilsack said.
Agriculture innovation mission for climate
In a series of events focused on the agriculture innovation mission for climate, which was launched by the United States and the United Arab Emirates last year at COP26, Vilsack highlighted the initiative’s progress and achievements to date. He also announced that the United States will host the AIM for Climate summit in Washington May 8 through May 10, 2023, bringing together public and private sector partners from around the world to collaborate and further elevate their groundbreaking work on climate smart agriculture and food systems innovation.
Vilsack also announced two new USDA contributions to AIM for Climate:
• $5 million for the enteric fermentation research and development accelerator, an AIM for Climate innovation sprint led by the global methane hub, to accelerate cost effective solutions to reduce enteric methane emissions
• $5 million for the efficient fertilizer consortium as a component of U.S. support for the global fertilizer challenge (see above)
Pathways to dairy net zero
Recognizing the vital role of sustainably managed livestock and dairy systems in combatting climate change and ensuring food security, Vilsack highlighted USDA’s domestic and international efforts to advance climate smart dairy production, including:
• Awarding more than $400 million for nine dairy focused projects under the first round of partnerships for climate smart commodities, which will help create additional revenue streams for U.S. dairy producers by developing markets for climate-smart dairy commodities and will help the U.S. dairy sector more effectively monitor, verify and report greenhouse gas reduction benefits.
• Collaborating with the State Department, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Global Dairy Platform and the International Food Policy Research Institute to help mobilize $1 billion from the green climate fund to accelerate sustainable dairy sector transformation in East Africa, Asia and the Americas as part of pathways to dairy net zero.