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USDA grant helps MO farms - climate smart practices

USDA grant helps MO farms - climate smart practices

By Blake Jackson

The University of Missouri's Center for Regenerative Agriculture (CRA) is leading the charge in helping Missouri producers adopt climate-friendly practices.

As part of the USDA's Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, CRA is offering financial assistance and technical expertise to farmers looking to build resilience and improve their bottom lines.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Robert Bonnie recently toured a Missouri farm enrolled in the program, the Missouri Climate-Resilient Crop and Livestock (CRCL) Project.

This project aims to assist producers in implementing a variety of climate-smart practices, such as cover crops, regenerative grazing, and agroforestry, over a five-year period.

"We're excited to see producers motivated to adopt innovative practices," said Under Secretary Bonnie. "The University of Missouri is playing a key role in this initiative."

The program has already seen significant success. Over 600 Missouri farmers have enrolled, implementing conservation practices on nearly 100,000 acres. Enrollment is ongoing, and financial assistance for cover crops is currently available.

"These practices help producers overcome climate-related challenges," explained Rob Myers, Director of CRA. "We're building climate resiliency and creating new market opportunities for Missouri farmers."

The USDA's $3 billion investment aims to establish markets for commodities produced using climate-smart practices. This will not only benefit the environment but also enhance the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture in the global market.

One of the farms participating in the program is Big River Grain and Cattle, LLC, owned by Daniel and Jeff Bonacker. With support from CRA, they've incorporated various climate-smart practices into their operation.

"The cost-share programs have allowed us to experiment with new methods while managing risks," said Daniel Bonacker. "Cover crops have significantly improved soil health, water management, and weed control."

Producers are already reaping the rewards of this program. Increased operational resilience, improved yields, and lower input costs are just some of the benefits reported.

Additionally, CRA plans to develop markets for project commodities, focusing on biofuels, beef, specialty crops, and ecosystem services.

The growing consumer demand for food produced using sustainable practices presents a significant market opportunity for climate-smart agriculture.

Photo Credit: usda

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