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NMPF Commends USDA for Dairy Support in Climate-Smart Partnerships Program

October 6, 2022

Four NMPF member cooperatives are poised to receive significant support under USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, which supports voluntary, producer-led initiatives to increase on-farm adoption of climate smart agricultural technologies and practices.

NMPF members are leading or partnering on projects that will receive roughly $245 million under the new program, announced September 14, include:

California Dairies, Inc. – CDI is a partner on a project led by the California Dairy Research Foundation and supported by numerous California dairy sector stakeholders that will build climate-smart dairy markets and provide financial incentives for dairy farmers to adopt climate-smart manure management practices to reduce methane emissions and nitrogen surplus. The project, which leverages matching funds from non-federal sources, will emphasize advanced manure management practices on dairies of varying sizes. It will establish on-farm full-scale pilot projects for the development of these practices, and measure and quantify their associated GHG and nitrogen benefits.

Dairy Farmers of America – DFA is the project lead on a climate-smart pilot initiative that will directly connect on-farm greenhouse gas emissions reductions with low-carbon dairy market opportunities. The project will focus on reducing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration on U.S. dairy farms, as well as developing and marketing climate-smart, low-carbon dairy products. Through these two areas of focus, the pilot project will create a self-funding circular rural economic model in which DFA members will receive incentives to keep reducing on-farm GHG emissions; in turn, those reduced emissions will lead to low-carbon dairy products. The project will deploy a robust carbon accounting system and market low-carbon dairy products at a sustainability premium that benefits DFA and its member-owners.

Land O’Lakes –Truterra, the Land O’Lakes sustainability business, is leading an initiative with American Farmland Trust and other partners to catalyze a self-sustaining, market-based network to broaden farmer access, scale adoption of climate-smart practices, and sustainably produce dairy and grain commodities with verified and quantified climate benefits. The project will use initial funding from USDA and matching funds from project partners to help incentivize practice changes. The project intends to become self-funding by selling climate-smart commodities and ecosystem credits to downstream buyers at scale, which will be in turn reinvested in delivering technical assistance to farmers to support additional practice changes. The project will seek to engage up to 20,000 farmers and dairy producers and affect more than 7 million acres, with a focus on reaching historically underserved farmers.

Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association – MDVA is a partner on a project led by the Conservation Innovation Fund. This project, focused on the Mid-Atlantic region, will help expand climate-smart markets and address climate-smart plans and practices for hundreds of dairy producers and will provide an on-ramp and serve as a catalyst for additional state and private capital to bolster whole-farm plans. It builds on an existing partnership between MDVA, the Conservation Innovation Fund, and the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium to expand climate-smart commodity initiatives across targeted watersheds in the Mid-Atlantic.

Projects funded under Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will help U.S. dairy farmers fulfill their environmental stewardship goals to become greenhouse gas neutral or better by 2050 and improve water quality while optimizing water use.

“America’s dairy community applauds USDA’s support for the robust efforts dairy farmers are leading to develop and implement climate-smart solutions that will benefit the entire food chain, from producer to consumer,” said NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern. “As an agricultural leader in sustainability, dairy farmers appreciate this funding that will help us meet our ambitious industry-wide goals for net-zero emissions and optimized water use.”