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Iowa’s role in climate smart agriculture
By Matt Russell, State Executive Director in Iowa, USDA Farm Service Agency
Oct. 4, 2022 3:00 pm
As a fifth generation Iowa farmer, I deeply believe in the power of Iowa agriculture. Iowa farmers continue to innovate on our farms. We continue to invest in agriculture, our communities, our state, country, and world because we believe in a bright future.
We feed people. Our crops provide an increasing variety of non-food products. Our farms generate energy. And it’s clear we are going to need to provide environmental stewardship to help sustain a hopeful future, not just for our state and country, but for the entire world.
I’m proud to be serving in the Biden-Harris Administration as the State Executive Director of Iowa Farm Service Agency. With Secretary Tom Vilsack’s leadership, USDA is empowering Iowa farmers to lead on agricultural solutions to the climate crisis. Iowa farmers are uniquely capable of delivering solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges, among the most pressing being solutions to climate change and other environmental threats.
Last month, Secretary Vilsack announced the $2.8 billion investment in the Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities. This innovative, voluntary, and competitive grant project demonstrates that farmers-ranchers-foresters, agribusinesses, food companies, universities and nonprofits all agree that it’s time to leverage agricultural solutions to help solve the climate crisis.
This historic investment ranks up there with other critical agricultural public policy innovations. For example, the New Deal Programs in conservation and rural electrification in the 1930s that helped Iowa farmers lead an agricultural revolution; and the 1985 Farm Bill that multiplied federal support for American farmers to implement conservation on our farms. As with those programs, the benefits of this partnership will be long felt.
Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities will help identify new revenue streams as Iowa farmers work with farm groups, agribusinesses, food companies, and researchers. The emerging markets for climate smart commodities will fuel on-farm and off-farm opportunities for rural communities as global markets begin to invest in sustainable innovations on Iowa farms.
I was with a group of 160 food and agricultural leaders last month at Long View Farms near Nevada as part of the fourth annual Honor the Harvest. We were talking about The Decade of Agriculture during which a trillion dollars will be invested to make our food and agricultural systems more sustainable. This is the future and Iowa farmers and agricultural leaders are going to play critically important roles.
Last month, the announcement of the Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities marked the beginning of a new era in American agriculture with a $3 billion investment in American agricultural leadership involving 70 projects, scores of organizations, 1000s of farmers, and millions of acres from every state in the Union.
As is often the case for major advances in American agriculture, Iowa is at the center of that leadership. Eighteen of the 70 partnerships will have a presence in Iowa, including a $95,000,000 project led by the Iowa Soybean Association. Practical Farmers of Iowa is a partner on multiple projects. Iowa State University as well is involved in multiple efforts.
This is truly historic. As Iowans, we all get to be a part of this history making. Stay tuned. There is so much more to come as Iowa farmers lead the way.