USDA initiative would help farmers create new revenue streams


USDA initiative would help farmers create new revenue streams

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA wants to help farmers become more profitable through climate-smart commodities.  Vilsack says their Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative is being designed so that many producers can embrace climate-smart practices to collect data on things like carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions to create what Vilsack calls a climate-smart commodity that consumers will want to buy. “If we can create a standard that’s data-based, the food industry needs to recognize the higher value-added proposition of that and farmers need to be able to gain a portion of that higher value.”

As farmers embrace these climate-smart practices, farmers could potentially qualify for private markets that are paying for carbon sequestration or paying for water conservation.  And, Vilsack says additional revenue streams could be created by separating chemicals from manure for resale.Vilsack says the bottom line is tight, and he cannot ask farmers to embrace these costs without knowing if they will get a corresponding revenue increase. “So, this program will essentially buy down those costs. It will essentially provide resources to a Land O Lakes, a Farm Bureau, National Farmers Union, or some other organization, or maybe it’s even the (University of Wisconsin Dairy) Innovation Center that basically aggregates a number of producers and says, if you’re willing to do these practices, we are willing to pay you to do these practices so you don’t incur any financial cost.”

Vilsack says USDA is working on the initiative now. “Be on the lookout for that. We’re going to be putting some framework to that and some resources behind that in the first part of 2022.”

Vilsack spoke to farmers, processors, and agriculture group leaders during a stop at a Wisconsin dairy farm Thursday.