The Rodale Institute in Kutztown has just received a $25 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, the largest government grant the institute has been awarded in its 75-year history.
The grant is part of the department’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative.
“This effort will increase the competitive advantage of U.S. agriculture both domestically and internationally, build wealth that stays in rural communities, and support a diverse range of producers and operation types,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack about the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative.
Vilsack met with senior Rodale Institute scientists last week to discuss the Institute’s project, which is titled “Quantifying the Potential to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Increase Carbon Sequestration by Growing and Marketing Climate-Smart Commodities in the Southern Piedmont.”
“We are appreciative that the United States Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service has chosen to support small-scale, diversified vegetable operations in the Southern Piedmont region of the United States that spans Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama,” said Dr. Andrew Smith, COO of the Rodale Institute. ”
The Rodale Institute will partner with several organizations and academic institutions on the project, including the Soil Health Institute, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Georgia Organics, Virginia Association for Biological Farming, Emory University, Clemson University, the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, NC State University, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
“This project will provide technical and financial support to small-scale underserved vegetable farmers in the Southern Piedmont region to enable the adoption of climate smart practices,” said Dr. Reza Afshar, chief scientist at Rodale Institute. “Our multidisciplinary team will also discover social and economic barriers to climate smart commodities for consumers. In addition, our work will focus on market development for climate smart commodities produced by farmers in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.”
In total, the USDA is investing $2.8 billion in 70 projects as part of its Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative.