Dairy cooperative incentivizes climate-smart practices through USDA grant

A dairy cooperative incentivizes climate-smart practices through a USDA grant.

Tim Trotter from Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and Farmers for Sustainable Food says the 50-million-dollar grant helps them line up their farms with commodity opportunities under USDA’s Climate Smart Commodities program. “So, it’s really informing farms where they’re at, aligning them with their processors, giving them powerful data to help manage their farm, and really align with the end user, our customers and the brands that we produce.”

The program will give farmers incentives to participate with three different levels, paying farmers to gather farm data starting at $1,500.

The contributor level allows farmers to make simple greenhouse gas and carbon assessments to establish their baseline and receive $1,500 for their time.  The cultivator level lets farmers do more in-depth planning using tools and software. 

Trotter says Collaborator is the top level. “That’s where you take all of this information, you look at your scores, you have your dashboard, if you will, with where you stand. If you share that within your supply chain, like with your processor, you know you’ll get an additional $4,500 which brings you to a $9,000 a year level.”

Trotter says all data remains the farm’s data, and farmers determine how they share their data.  He says their farmers want to know how to profit from using sustainable practices. “They want to have a stronger relationship with their processor and they want to have more communication within the supply chain about what can be done on farms, and what is that financial sustainability look like when you’re looking at different scenarios within supply chains.”

Trotter says many of the tools needed to participate are free, and the planning information gained can help make farms more financially viable.

AUDIO: Tim Trotter discusses the support they offer farmers through USDA’s Climate Smart Commodities Program

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