NC A&T Partners with USDA’s $2.8 Billion Climate-Smart Products Projects

EAST GREENSBORO, NC (October 17, 2022) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will participate in two major projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and improving climate-resilient agricultural production in the as part of the US Department of Agriculture’s major new climate partnerships. Smart goods.

Biswinath Dari, Ph.D., agriculture and natural resources specialist with Cooperative Extension at NC A&T, will work with organic and conventional vegetable growers in North Carolina and four other southern states to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon sequestration in the soil.

Arnab Bhowmik, Ph.D., assistant professor of soil science in A&T’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will work on a project that will provide technical and financial assistance to more than 1,000 cotton farmers Americans across the United States.

“We are in the mix with very large institutions and very large projects. We are holding our ground,” said CAES Dean Mohamed Ahmedna, Ph.D. “They are coming to us and we are capitalizing.”

The USDA announced in September that it would invest up to $2.8 billion in 70 projects in the first round of funding from its Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. The USDA said it would announce a second round of projects later this year.

The federal agency said it expects these climate-smart projects to expand markets and revenue streams for commodity producers on more than 50,000 farms covering more than 20 million acres and sequester the equivalent of 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Several historically black universities are among the partners in these USDA-funded projects.

Dari, a soil scientist by training, will work with small-scale and underserved vegetable growers in five southern Piedmont states to improve sustainable agricultural production by adopting climate-smart farming practices. It will help identify the social and economic barriers that prevent these farmers from adopting climate-smart practices and provide them with information and technical assistance.

“Climate change is happening, and we can’t deny it,” Dari said. “It will only get worse and worse if we don’t take some steps now to modify its effects.”

Dari said he plans to conduct several on-farm demonstrations at the NC A&T University Farm and at area farms to show the value of using cover crops, no-till techniques and other approaches to sequestering carbon in the soil – a key tactic for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – and improving soil health.

“Seeing is believing for these farmers,” Dari said. “Just talking to farmers is not convincing enough because they have been doing the same thing for years. You need to give them enough technical and financial support and show them the real science.

This project will receive up to $25 million in USDA funding. It will be led by the Rodale Institute, a Pennsylvania nonprofit that researches and promotes organic agriculture. Other major partners are the University of Georgia, Virginia Association for Biological Farming, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Georgia Organics, Emory University, University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, Clemson University, North Carolina State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A&T’s share of funding is approximately $550,000 over five years.

Bhowmik, a soil health expert in A&T’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design, will work on the US Climate Smart Cotton program in partnership with the Soil Health Institute. This project will encourage farmers in the “Cotton Belt” that stretches from Virginia to California to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices on more than one million acres.

Early on, Bhowmik will help identify eligible minority and underfunded cotton farmers in North and South Carolina and connect them with technical and financial resources to adopt climate-smart practices. Later, he will measure and verify soil carbon levels and greenhouse gas emissions from selected fields.

The program, which will receive up to $90 million in USDA funding, hopes over the next five years to produce more than 4 million bales of climate-smart cotton and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than one million metric tons.

The US Cotton Trust Protocol leads this project. Other major partners are the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund, Cotton Council International, Cotton Incorporated, Agricenter International, Texas A&M AgriLife and Alabama A&M University. A&T’s funding will be approximately $500,000 over five years.

“We are really well positioned at A&T to help these farmers connect with farming practices that we consider climate-smart,” Bhowmik said. “Climate change is an existential threat, and we absolutely want to make sure they become more resilient and resilient to the impact of climate change by adopting soil health management practices.

Mark Blevins, Ed.D., assistant administrator for agricultural and natural resources at Cooperative Extension at A&T, said the USDA is now focused on developing climate-smart projects and engaging institutions that serve communities. minorities in this work.

By tapping into their vast networks, Blevins added, the university and cooperative extension can bring the enormous benefits of multi-million dollar projects to small farmers and minorities in under-resourced communities.

“We live in a new day,” he said. “The value we bring to the projects is very clearly visible.”

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