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Data reporting to be a focus with Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities

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A top USDA official says 2024 will be a pivotal year for the Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities program, as the Biden administration’s initiative to develop markets for low-carbon ag products kicks into full gear.

“We’re seeing enrollment [and] we’re seeing excitement out in the countryside,” USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie says on this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, adding, “signups are going to be important this year.”

In late 2022, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA would be investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 projects, then expanded the program by devoting an additional $325 million for another 71 projects.

Bonnie says as each project has gotten up and running, data reporting has been a main concern among producers and a focus of USDA’s.

“How do we ensure [we’re getting] the right data and that we’re keeping strong incentives for producers to sign up?” Bonnie asks.

Laura Wood Peterson, founder of Laura Wood Peterson Consulting, says some projects are further along than others but that it will take a few years to see all the data collected and analyzed.

“I think there will be some projects that show some clear, strong pathways for MMRV [measuring, monitoring, reporting and verification efforts] in terms of any kind of additional ecosystem service value creation. … There’s a lot of exciting work between the private sector and traditional conservation work that’s been going on with farmers,” says Peterson.

Bonnie says producers also want to know how these programs will help add value to their operations and that USDA is working to trace that through the supply chain.

“There’re some new technologies, new companies that are collecting data in different ways. … One of the things that we’re thinking about, and a lot of the projects are thinking about is around the issue [of] standards. Do we need to standardize … methodologies for measuring soil carbon or methane or other things, and I think there’s a conversation to be had there.”

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