The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and its partners have been awarded four Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grants through the USDA’s historic investment in expanding climate-smart agriculture.
NCAT and its five Climate Beneficial Fiber project partners—Carbon Cycle Institute, Colorado State University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Fibershed, Seed2Shirt, and New York Textile Lab— will receive up to $30 million to support the expansion of climate-smart wool and cotton production on 135 farms and ranches spread across 2.1 million acres. The project builds on the existing Climate Beneficial™ fiber program, which has a track record of growing America’s ability to produce climate-smart fiber, regenerate our soils, and expand economic opportunities for wool and cotton growers.
“NCAT has a long, trusted history of supporting farmers and ranchers who want to produce sustainably-made products that not only are part of the climate solution, but also strengthen local and regional businesses that buy, make, and sell the products that power America,” said NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson. “This investment in climate-smart ag will have a tremendous impact across some of this country’s most important sectors.”
Textile and apparel production accounts for up to 10 percent of global carbon emissions, and the industry is moving to meet market demand for improved climate impact across supply chains. Growing concerns about textile-derived microplastics, land-use impacts, and human rights have also prompted an industry-wide shift to seek natural fiber sources with verified benefits to land and climate.
“We are elated for all our partners and the benefit this award will have for the soil systems that provide us clothing and food. This was a very competitive process, and we want to thank the USDA for the honor of being able to scale a body of work that has largely been, to date, held up by farming, ranching, university, and technical assistance providers who have put countless hours of effort into emergent work,” said Fibershed Founder and Executive Director Rebecca Burgess. “Climate Beneficial wool growers took the first risk with us in 2015 and now Climate Beneficial cotton growers are putting themselves out to trial new ways of doing things for the health of the soil. This grant allows us to build out the markets in the ways that we need to, to keep rural communities strong, farmers farming, and ranchers ranching in a way that puts carbon back where it belongs.”
The project expands the existing Climate Beneficial fiber program, an established, market-proven system for sequestering carbon, regenerating soil health and resilience, improving social equity, and bolstering America’s ability to produce fiber. The 20-year greenhouse gas impact of practices implemented on a share of the participating farms during the grant period is projected to be a reduction of at least three million metric tons of CO2. Other benefits will include reduced application of synthetic fertilizers, improved soil health, and increased soil organic matter, water-holding capacity, and enhanced resilience to a changing climate. A newly created, open-source, Carbon Farm Planning and Verification Platform will streamline climate-smart agriculture planning and verification for producers, verifiers, and supply-chain stakeholders alike. The project aims to meet the equity goals of the Justice40 Initiative and will prioritize engagement with traditionally underserved producers.
“We are humbled and appreciative to be working alongside all our partners in this grant award. Most importantly, we look forward to this unprecedented opportunity this grant opens for Black cotton-growing families,” said Founder and CEO of Seed2Shirt Tameka Peoples. “Given the historic impact cotton has had on the African American community in the US, we are happy to see the matched level of commitment by our partners and USDA to ensuring Black cotton farmers are a part of this important work to heal the land and heal farm families and communities, through climate-smart agriculture practices. Our team at Seed2shirt views this as another step in our work towards the equitable value chain of cotton production we are working diligently every day to create.”
In addition to being awarded up to $30 million for the Fibershed project, NCAT is partnering with organizations around the country on the following projects:
- Farmers for Soil Health Climate-Smart Commodities Partnership | This project proposes to accelerate long-term cover crop adoption by creating a platform to incentivize farmers. The platform will quantify, verify, and facilitate the sale of ecosystem benefits, creating a marketplace to generate demand for climate-smart commodities. Lead Partner: National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Other Major Partners: Farmers for Soil Health (National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board, and the National Pork Board), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Center for Appropriate Technology, National Association of Conservation Districts, Soil Health Institute, University of Missouri, Sustainability Consortium, Data Transmission Network, The Walton Family Foundation | Major Commodities: Corn, Soybeans, Approximate Funding Ceiling: $95,000,000
- Expanding the STAR Program Across Colorado and the West | This project offers a comprehensive approach that empowers conservation districts and other eligible entities to help build climate-smart markets and provide technical assistance to a diverse range of producers; provides three years of financial and technical assistance to producers; quantifies and verifies climate benefits on behalf of producers; develops a rating as a market signal so participants earn more for products grown with healthy soil practices; and evaluates and validates carbon and soil-water research for the arid West. Lead Partner: Colorado Department of Agriculture Other Major Partners: Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District, Colorado Association of Conservation Districts & other Conservation Districts, Colorado Open Lands, Colorado State University, National Center for Appropriate Technology, Sangre de Cristo Association of Acequias, Univ. of Idaho, Montana State Univ., New Mexico State Univ., Utah State Univ., Univ. of Wyoming, Audubon Society, Colorado Corn Administrative Committee, Acres USA, Quivira Coalition, Yardstick, Zero Foodprint, Bob’s Red Mill, Quinn Snacks | Major Commodities: Beef, Corn, Grains, Approximate Funding Ceiling: $25,000,000
- Building Soil, Building Equity: Accelerating a Regenerative Farming Movement in Appalachia and the Southeast | This project seeks to build climate-smart markets and sequester carbon over thousands of acres of Appalachian and rural southeastern land through strategic recruitment from networks of producers. The project will use education, outreach, technical assistance, and incentivizing producers to adopt climate-smart agriculture. Lead Partner: Accelerating Appalachia Other Major Partners: National Center for Appropriate Technology, Kentucky State University, Working Trees from Stanford University’s TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, Carbon Harvest | Major Commodities: Fruit and Vegetables, Row Crops, Beef, Approximate Funding Ceiling: $20,000,000
THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY has been helping people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources since 1976. Headquartered in Butte, Montana, NCAT has field offices in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Learn more at NCAT.ORG.