From Agri-Pulse, May 18, 2022

USDA’s tall task: Picking winners for $1B climate-smart funding pool

RIPE Executive Director Aliza Wasserman-Drewes recently spoke with Agri-Pulse about our proposal to the USDA for a pilot project. An excerpt is below:

USDA has a daunting task as it seeks to pick the winners for one of the biggest ag lotteries ever: the $1 billion Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, whose first round of funding drew more than 450 proposals seeking $3 billion to $4 billion…

(One) $100 million proposal comes from Rural Investment to Protect Our Environment, or RIPE, a nonprofit whose proposal would pay farmers $100 an acre to implement conservation practices, a figure that dwarfs payments currently being offered by the private sector for carbon sequestration.

“A price floor that is above policy costs and allows for a reasonable return. That’s our motto,” RIPE founder Aliza Wasserman-Drewes says. The proposal covers 394,000 acres of cropland, 153,000 of pastureland and 74,000 animal units in Minnesota, North Dakota, Virginia and Arkansas.

Cover crops, for example, are delivering $100 to $120 per acre in benefits, she says, with water quality improvements making up about half of that.

The model of promoting conservation practices by providing a cost-share payment isn’t working, she says, adding that RIPE is trying to persuade farmers to support its RIPE100 program or something like it in the next farm bill.

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