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$50 Million for USDA Partnerships in Conservation Equity, Climate Change
Kentucky Ag Connection - 01/12/2022

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $50 million in 118 partnerships to expand access to conservation assistance for climate-smart agriculture and forestry. The Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements, administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will fund two-year projects to expand the delivery of conservation assistance to farmers who are new to farming, low income, socially disadvantaged or military veterans. Projects will support USDA's broader effort to address climate change and equitable access to programs.

"We are committed to equal opportunity for those we serve, and we are taking bold, historic action to advance equity and root out generations of systemic racism," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "These partnerships are another example of how we are helping ensure historically underserved producers can more fully access and participate in our programs and services. As we've said before: equity will be a vital part of our climate change work, as America's farmers and rural communities are on the frontlines of climate change. Our work with producers and partners will invest in climate smart solutions that improve profitability and resilience, open new market opportunities, and build wealth that stays in rural communities."

The program encourages new partnerships and the development of state and community conservation leadership for historically underserved producers, with projects focusing on one or more of the following key conservation priorities:

- Improving soil health and water quality;

- Providing habitat for at-risk wildlife;

- Improving natural resources and productivity on agricultural lands; and/or

- Building and strengthening local and regional food systems and markets.

In Kentucky, programs receiving funding are:

- Catholic Charities of Louisville for "Common Earth Gardens: Developing and Supporting Refugee Farmers"

- National Center for Appropriate Technology in a program between Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and New Hampshire for "Investing in Underserved Farmers to Regenerate Their Farms' Ecologies"

- Tonya Smith for "Permaculture and Soil Education Outreach"

Nationwide, three programs were funded:

- Intertribal Agriculture Council for "Nationwide Embracing Culturally Relevant Outreach Techniques to Serve Socially Disadvantaged Tribal Producers."

- Nolo Martinez for "Nationwide Champions in Conservation and Climate-Smart Agriculture (CCCSA) 'Campeones en conservación y la agricultura climáticamente inteligente'"

- Third Sector New England, Inc. for "Nationwide Expanding Equity and Conservation for Refugee Beginning Farmers."

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