The Rodale Institute has received the largest governmental grant in its 75-year history.
The Maxatawny Township-based organization has been awarded a $25 million grant as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative. The initiative is designed to support the production and marketing of agricultural commodities that are produced using agricultural practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon.
“This effort will increase the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture both domestically and internationally, build wealth that stays in rural communities and support a diverse range of producers and operation types,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement announcing the grant.
Vilsack met last week with senior Rodale scientists to discuss a project at the institute titled “Quantifying the Potential to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Increase Carbon Sequestration by Growing and Marketing Climate-Smart Commodities in the Southern Piedmont.”
“We are appreciative that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service has chosen to support small-scale, diversified vegetable operations in the southern Piedmont region of the United States that spans Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama,” said Dr. Andrew Smith, chief operating officer at Rodale. “This multidisciplinary project brings together organic and conventional farmers, nonprofit agricultural organizations, and public, private and historically Black colleges and universities to measure and promote climate-smart commodities.”
Smith said it is expected the project will increase the acreage and number of farmers using cover crops and other conservation practices.
Rodale Institute will partner with several organizations and academic institutions on this project, including: the Soil Health Institute, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Georgia Organics, Virginia Association for Biological Farming, Emory University, Clemson University, the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, North Carolina State University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
“This project will provide technical and financial support to small-scale underserved vegetable farmers in the southern Piedmont region to enable the adoption of climate-smart practices,” said Dr. Reza Afshar, chief scientist at Rodale. “Our multidisciplinary team will also discover social and economic barriers to climate-smart commodities for consumers. In addition, our work will focus on market development for climate-smart commodities produced by farmers in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.”
The grant to Rodale is among $2.8 billion the USDA is dolling out through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative for 70 projects across the U.S. For more information visit usda.gov.