Wyoming Farmers Could See Millions in Climate Investment From the USDA
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects across the country, including various ones that could impact Wyoming.
The projects, part of the USDA's climate-smart commodities partnerships, involve partnering with various groups, including the Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Farm Journal, Inc., Millborn Seeds, Inc., The Western Sugar Cooperative, Low Carbon Beef, and National Center for Appropriate Technology, Inc.
Each of these groups applied to the USDA for funding, with money to be handed out in the coming months, ranging from $10 million to $80 million, though it remains to be seen exactly how much money they will be given.
Of the 70 projects, each will impact a variety of states across the country, with some impacting those in Wyoming but only if producers apply for the grant programs.
All told, there are 12 different projects that Wyoming could be a part of, ranging from creating climate-smart commodities like beef and crops to promoting soil health through crop rotation and carbon sequestration.
Trust in Food, which is a subsidiary of Food Journal Inc., does most of its work in Nebraska to provide farmers with cost assistance and research tools to help them take a more climate-friendly farming approach.
David Frabotta, the manager of Trust In Food's Climate-Smart Ag Interactive Programming, said that they aren't active in Wyoming, but believe their work in Nebraska will translate well into the Equality State and encourage producers to apply.
"We're not currently active in Wyoming per se. In our broader reach, we've come across producers in Wyoming," Frabotta said. "We do not have an active campaign in Wyoming. We're in Nebraska pretty strong, and I think a lot of that work in Nebraska translates pretty well to Wyoming. I think they've staked a lot of the same resource concerns, sharing the high plains and looking at water, drought, abiotic stress, for both livestocking and cropping systems. So we think Wyoming is a great step for us, we're operating in South Dakota as well in different capacities."
The USDA project Farm Journal Inc. is involved with, the "Connected Ag Climate-Smart Commodities Pilot Project," has 30 other primary states expected to receive funding besides Wyoming, including Colorado, Montana, and South Dakota.
Meghan Pusey, Marketing Advisor with Low Carbon Beef, said that they won't be able to start handing out awards until late October or early November and while they're not Wyoming specific, they encourage people in the state to apply.
Pusey said their program aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of cattle by a minimum of 10%, with their pilot program through the USDA aiming to go above a 50% reduction.
"We work across four areas if you will that we call the four Fs, for looking at cattle function, so the type of cattle, their breed, how the cattle if performing," Pusey said. "Feed, fuel, and fertilizer to see if there are efforts the producer is taking to demonstrate that not all beef is created equal, there is a way to produce beef with a reduced greenhouse gas emission. Then we worked with USDA to have a claim that then can be demonstrated to consumers that this beef was reduced, similar to organic or natural, it would then say this product was produced with reduced greenhouse gas emissions."
Low Carbon Beef was founded in 2018 and last November received its first USDA Process Verified Program for the cattle it helped raise.
It is unclear at this time if Low Carbon Beef works with any ranchers in Wyoming because Pusey said she is unable to share information on any beef producers they work with due to confidentiality agreements.