(JAMESTOWN, N.D.) – North Dakota Farmers Union is serving as the state lead on a national pilot program that will pay farmers and ranchers $100 an acre or animal unit to implement high-value conservation practices on their land. The Alliance to Advance Climate-Smart Agriculture will incentivize adoption or maintenance of no till, minimum till, prescribed grazing, cover crops, and other practices that curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The three-year project is funded through a USDA grant that will pay out a total of $57 million in 2024 and 2025 to roughly 4,000 producers in four states – Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and Virginia. Seven soil conservation districts in North Dakota are participating in the program with an objective of enrolling 450 producers who are farming or ranching in either Billings, Cass, Foster, McKenzie, Mercer, Rolette, Stark or Ward counties. The program will offer one-year contracts in 2024 and 2025.
The project is limited to 160 acres or animal units per producer for a maximum payout of $16,000 annually. Producers will receive 50% up front, 25% after implementation and verification, and then the final 25% after reporting is complete. Producers who use the program in 2024 are eligible to enroll in 2025. However, they can’t enroll the same acres for the same practice. Sixteen different soil conservation practices are eligible under program guidelines.
Early adopters of most high-value conservation practices are also eligible to receive funding. Forty percent of the project’s nationwide enrollment must come from under-served, socially disadvantaged or limited-resource farms.
Nationally, the program is led by Virginia Tech. The North Dakota Conservation District Employees Association and soil conservation districts are providing technical assistance for growers, while the North Dakota Grain Growers Association is assisting North Dakota Farmers Union with producer outreach.
The Alliance is part of USDA’s $3.1 billion investment in the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, which supports 141 projects and seeks to provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture, leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodities and expand those markets for American producers.
To enroll or learn more about the program, visit allianceforcsa.org or contact your local soil conservation district. Farms and ranches must be located in one of the eight eligible counties to apply. The 30-day enrollment period will open in mid-February.