The National Pork Board (NPB) is the lead of one and a collaborator on two grants receiving $155 million in USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding announced Sept. 14, 2022.

The three grants are part of the $2.8 billion awarded to 70 selected projects in the first round of funding for the program.

“Pork producers stand out as leaders in sustainability with the data aggregation tools they have invested their producer dollars into already, continually driving to position U.S. pork as the protein of choice here and around the world,” said Ashley McDonald, assistant vice president of sustainability for NPB.

“I am so proud of what producers have done,” McDonald said. “It makes our job easy to be advocates, and I’m proud of NPB for continuing to identify needs and opportunities to support their efforts, like these Climate-Smart programs, which will expand the reach and impact of these programs.”

Grant 1: Advancing U.S. Pork Sustainability and Market Value

$20 million

This grant will incentivize soil health and manure management practice adoption and support Pork Cares Farm Impact Reports for pork operations.

NPB and its partners seek to increase the sustainability of U.S. pork products by advancing climate-smart agriculture practices in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri, specifically measured and documented through the Pork Cares Farm Impact Reports.

NPB has funded these reports with Checkoff dollars as a pilot to date and so far, more than 300 operations, representing more than 200,000 acres and 2 million pigs, have signed up. This grant supports pork producers seeking in-barn or in-field continuous improvement opportunities on their operations.

Seven organizations collaborated on this $20 million grant effort and will continue to report on its progress. Three state pork associations and crop commodity organizations provided a letter of support.

Principle Collaborators

  • National Pork Board
  • Nestlé
  • Sustainable Environmental Consultants
  • Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
  • Trust in Food (Farm Journal Inc.)
  • Farm Credit Council
  • Millborn Seeds

Entities Providing Letter of Support

  • Iowa Pork Producers Association
  • Minnesota Pork Board
  • Missouri Pork Association
  • Iowa Corn Growers Association
  • Missouri Corn Growers Association
  • Iowa Soybean Association

Grant 2: Farmers for Soil Health

$95 million

This grant will support a program to advance the adoption of cover crops and conservation tillage in 20 states.

With the grant funding of $95 million, Farmers for Soil Health will launch a program across 20 states in the Midwest, which represent 85% of the nation’s corn and soybeans, to advance the adoption of cover crops and conservation tillage. The program contributes to Farmers for Soil Health’s goal to double the number of corn and soybean acres using cover crops to 30 million acres by 2030.

This alliance between the United Soybean Board, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association and NPB is farmer-led and farmer-driven to support growers and certify they have the financial tools and technical resources to promote continuous improvement and conservation.

“Cover crops improve soil structure, help recycle nutrients, reduce soil erosion, increase the soil’s water holding capacity and sequester carbon. This reduces the environmental footprint of corn, soybeans and pork production because corn and soybeans are the two primary ingredients fed to pigs,” said Dale Stevermer, Minnesota corn, soy and pig farmer and a board member of NPB.

“It can take a few years to learn how to best use cover crops, and this Farmers for Soil Health program will help farmers accelerate that learning curve,” Stevermer said.

Because feed represents the largest contributor to pig farmers’ carbon footprint, this project helps reduce the cost burden for farmers adopting cover crops and proactively supports industry-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

Grant 3: Connected Ag Climate-Smart Commodities Pilot Project

$40 million

This grant will support testing and evaluating climate-smart data in all segments of agriculture in ways that add increased value and support to producers.

NPB joined 11 contributing partners for this $40 million grant, covering producers and farmers in 31 states.

Led by Farm Journal’s Trust in Food, this project will expand climate-smart markets for many agricultural commodities and provide direct payments, technical assistance and data management strategies to producers of row crops, beef, dairy, pork and other commodities to adopt climate-smart practices.

“Farm Journal’s Trust in Food initiative is revolutionizing how farmers connect with climate-smart agriculture, and then creating forums to share their sustainability efforts with customers,” said McDonald. “This partnership provides the tools to operate each day efficiently, easily and in alignment with the We Care® Ethical Principles.”

Other Grant Recipients

A wide range of public and private entities received grants from USDA earlier this week. Thirteen beef and livestock grants were awarded, along with 15 fruit, vegetable and specialty crop; 11 corn and soybean; 5 timber and forest and 9 dairy, among others. These projects represent1:

  • 500,000+ farms reached, encompassing more than 25 million acres of land engaged in climate-smart production practices
  • $25 million to $45 million in average funding for each project
  • 50+ universities, including multiple minority-serving institutions
  • Increased markets and revenue streams for producers and commodities.2

A full list of projects awarded can be found here. A second round of funding will be announced later this year.

1. USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities