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USDA Under Secretary Addresses Climate-smart Group

ST. PAUL – Robert Bonnie, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, gave opening remarks at a meeting of the Minnesota Working Group for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities held Oct. 24 at the Minnesota Farmers Union office.

“When we developed Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities and rolled it out, it was a bit like throwing a party and not knowing if anybody would show up,” Bonnie said. “I’m not sure if anybody showed up as much as Minnesota showed up.”

Of the 141 projects funded through the climate-smart commodities program, 25 have Minnesota connections, he said.

Minnesota Farmers Union first convened stakeholders involved in USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities (PCSC) grant-funded projects in May. The conversation continued Oct. 24 with an update on farmer recruitment, data management best practices and reporting data to USDA.

“Farmers are on the front lines of the climate crisis and it’s vital that farmers take advantage of opportunities like those offered by the climate-smart commodities grants,” said MFU Vice President Anne Schwagerl, who farms near Browns Valley. “We have made changes to our crop rotation and added additional crops because we want to be proactive as the weather continues to change. We have dealt with extreme drought, extreme wetness and extreme heat in the course of our decade-long farming career. Bringing all these organizations together in one group is a way to help farmers select the climate-smart program that works best for them. We look forward to continuing this partnership.”

“The Climate-Smart Agriculture initiative at USDA builds on the work that Minnesota farmers and leaders have been doing to build more resilient agricultural systems,” said Minnesota Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Whitney Place. “The investment USDA made in the 25 projects across Minnesota will help determine how climate-smart agricultural policies can help advance this work in a way that works best for our farmers and rural communities. We are excited about the partners involved coming together to coordinate through this working group, showcasing Minnesota’s leadership in this space.”

“It’s exciting to be part of this diverse working group that brings multiple interest groups together with a common goal of working with farmers and landowners to leverage dollars available for climate-smart projects and to improve conservation on the ground in Minnesota,” said Leif Fixen, North America Agriculture Strategy Manager, The Nature Conservancy. “By working together across projects and looking for areas to collaborate, we’re going to be able to put more of this funding to work to benefit both farmers and our environment.”

The Minnesota Working Group for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities will meet again as projects continue to be implemented.

USDA first announced details of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities in February 2022. In September 2022, 70 projects were selected and in December 2022, an additional 71 projects were selected. USDA has invested more than $3.1 billion in Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities.

About Minnesota Farmers Union

Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at www.mfu.org and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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