One Year Results for Building Blocks for Climate Smart Ag

Kelly Marshallclimate, Conservation, environment, Government, USDA

usda-logoOne year after the unveiling of the Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is sharing the results.   He also announced an additional $72.3 million investment in carbon storage in healthy soils.

“American farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners are global leaders in conserving rural America’s natural resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Vilsack. “With today’s announcements, USDA is providing the necessary tools and resources called for under the President’s Climate Action Plan so producers and landowners can successfully create economic opportunity and provide the food, fiber and energy needs of a growing global population.”

On April 23, 2015, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced USDA’s 10 Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture, a comprehensive set of voluntary programs and initiatives that is expected to reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by over 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2025 – about two percent of economy-wide emissions. The ten “building blocks” span a range of technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage, and generate clean renewable energy. USDA also supports global food security through in-country capacity building, basic and applied research, and support for improved market information, statistics and analysis.

Today’s “USDA Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry Implementation Plan and Progress Report” catalogues the progress made over the past year and provides new details on the Department’s framework for helping farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners respond to climate change.

The Building Blocks created a set of annual benchmarks to measure the aggressive plan’s leveraging of partnerships, data and technology.  Results depend on volunteers to reduce greenhouse gas, increase carbon sequestration and increase the use of renewable energy.  The end goal is to reduce carbon dioxide by 120 million metric tons by 2025.

So far the USDA reports an increase is soil health awareness with its new Soil Health Division at NRCS, an investment of about $300 million in climate change benefits through EQIP, $12.5 million in grants through REAP for renewable energy projects, the creation of a partnership with the Softwood Lumber Board and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council to use more energy efficient building materials, and 23.6 million acres enrolled in CRP.