Riceland Foods Inc. of Stuttgart has received $20 million in federal funds for a project that aims to help farmers adopt climate-smart practices and interact with commodity buyers in climate-smart markets.
The farmer-owned cooperative's Ingrain Good Carbon Ready Initiative will build an asset registry system for data collection, benefit quantification, verification, and farmer compensation, Riceland said in a news release. Eligible farmers will be provided direct payments to adopt practices set by the Natural Resource Conservation Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Farmers can also receive technical support and participate in the design of a registry system that will improve their ability to access environmental markets, according to the release.
Partners in the program include Winrock International of North Little Rock; Arva Intelligence of Salt Lake City, which provides AI-based agricultural solution; interactive mapping technology company Blue Raster LLC of Arlington, Virginia; and the Intertribal Agriculture Council, which promotes the conservation and development of Native American resources.
The project is one of 70 receiving up to $2.8 billion in total funds through the USDA's Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. The department expects the initiative to expand hundreds of markets and revenue streams for producers and commodities across agriculture, ranging from traditional corn to specialty crops.
In total, the program should reach more than 50,000 farms with 20-25 million acres of working land. The department estimates that more than 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent will be cut off, the equivalent of removing more than 10 million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles from the road for one year.
More than 50 universities are helping advance the projects through monitoring, measurement, reporting and verification.
“This grant provides Riceland farmers with a unique opportunity to be rewarded financially for their sustainable rice production,” Roger Pohlner, Riceland board chair, said in a news release. “Our farmers are leading the way on climate smart practices, and we are very pleased the USDA recognizes this and provided us with the opportunity to showcase and encourage the implementation of Riceland’s Ingrain Good Carbon Ready Program.”