Vilsack celebrates hemp during announcement of USDA’s $1 billion climate investment

Hemp was lauded as a climate-smart commodity for its use as a construction material by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week as he highlighted new funding opportunities for farmers.

Speaking at a university in Missouri, Vilsack pointed to hemp Monday when he announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $1 billion in climate-smart commodities.

The new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities fund will go to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who use climate-smart practices, Vilsack said.

“For far too long in rural America, we’ve taken products of the land and from the land, we’ve shipped them someplace else, where opportunity is created someplace else, where wealth is created someplace else,” Vilsack said.

“With this opportunity, we now have a chance to change it from an extraction effort to a circular effort. The ability to essentially create climate-smart commodities, the opportunity to convert waste into wide variety of bio-based materials. I saw some of them today – hemp in construction material, for example.”

“Those processing facilities can be located right where the crops are being grown.

“They can be sustainably produced; they can be a higher value; they can create jobs in rural communities; they can increase farm income; they can expand population centers in rural places, taking pressure off our urban centers; they can restore life and vitality in our small towns.

“That’s the opportunity side of this – we just need to understand the opportunity we have, and we need to fully seize it.”

The USDA defines a climate-smart commodity as a commodity crop produced using practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon.

The USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation will be used to fund pilot projects to provide incentives to:

  • Implement climate-smart production practices, activities and systems on working lands.
  • Measure or quantify, monitor and verify the carbon and greenhouse-gas benefits associated with those practices.
  • Develop markets and promote the resulting climate-smart commodities.

Applications will be taken in two groups, sorted by the size of the proposals. Deadlines are:

  • April 8 for the first funding pool (proposals from $5 million to $100 million).
  • May 27 for the second funding pool (proposals from $250,000 to $4,999,999).

Learn more about eligibility and how to apply here.