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Sept 30 -- The Office of the Chief Economist, Commodity Credit Corporation, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) invites information (comments) from the public by November 1, 2021 on the design of a Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry (CSAF) Partnership Program.
 
In response to Executive Order 14008 (Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, January 27, 2021), we published a Federal Register notice on March 16, 2021 (86 FR 14403-14404), to request comments on a CSAF strategy. Based on public comments received and our ongoing stakeholder engagement activities, we published a progress report on the CSAF strategy. https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/climate-smart-ag-forestry-strategy-90-day-progress-report.pdf  
 
As one element of this strategy, we are considering actions to expand the use of climate-smart farming practices and aid in the marketing of agricultural commodities. The term “climate-smart commodity” is used to refer to an agricultural commodity that is produced using farming practices that reduce GHG emissions or sequester carbon.
 
We will use the public comments to inform the possible development of a USDA Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Program, which could encourage adoption of CSAF practices and promote markets for climate-smart commodities. Through this request for information, we are requesting suggestions for priorities within the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Program. The Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Program could be developed under the authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act of 1933 (15 U.S.C. 714 Section 5(e).

The public comments will provide valuable information to USDA, as well as the private sector and other stakeholders with interest in and expertise relating to the expansion of opportunities for CSAF practices, as well as markets for climate-smart commodities.

New markets for climate-smart commodities provide an opportunity and a challenge for U.S. farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. Domestic and international consumers are demonstrating a preference for agricultural commodities produced using CSAF practices, creating new market opportunities for producers. Markets for climate-smart commodities include sustainable supply chain initiatives and internal corporate commitments where companies are pledging to reduce emissions within their own supply chains and production facilities. Opportunities also include markets for low-carbon biofuels and renewable energy. Agricultural producers and landowners also have opportunities to market GHG reductions generated as a part of climate-smart commodity production.

Despite the opportunity for new or expanded markets for climate-smart commodities described above, there are barriers that have prevented these markets from reaching scale. The barriers include:

The lack of standard definitions of climate-smart commodities;
Lack of clear standards for measurement of climate benefits of CSAF practices;
Potential for double-counting benefits;
High transaction costs;
Limited ability for small producer participation;
Lack of efficient supply chain traceability; and
High risk of market entry.

We are exploring options to reduce and remove barriers currently limiting the development of new market opportunities for CSAF practices and climate-smart commodities. USDA is requesting comments on options for promoting CSAF, including systems for quantification, options, and criteria for proposal evaluation, use of information collected, potential protocols, and options for review and verification. Additionally, we are requesting comments on how U.S. Government action might encourage CSAF practices by leveraging private-sector demand and providing new income streams for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners.  
 
Commodity Credit Corporation website: https://www.usda.gov/ccc  
FR notice inviting information and comment on CSAF strategy: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/09/30/2021-21368/climate-smart-agriculture-and-forestry-partnership-program

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