On September 14, the USDA announced the 70 projects that were chosen to receive funding from the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. Among these projects was Building a Regenerative Ranching Economy in the West, on which Syracuse University Professor of Biology Mark Ritchie is a co-principal investigator.
The Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity (CSCP) was announced in February of 2022. Through it, the USDA aims to finance numerous one-to-five-year pilot projects, throughout the country that will promote the production and marketing of climate-smart products. Through this, the program hopes to expand markets for America’s climate-smart commodities, leverage reductions in greenhouse gas emissions on such products, and provide meaningful benefits directly to agriculture production, especially small, underserved producers. The USDA has committed up to $2.8 billion in funding dispersed among the 70 projects announced on September 14, with recipients of funds from a second pool to be announced later this year.
Ritchie’s project, Building a Regenerative Ranching Economy in the West, has been awarded an approximate funding ceiling of $10,000,000. The Project focuses on developing more environmentally sound methods of cattle ranching. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously increasing market returns. To this end it will work to implement climate-smart grazing practices for 120 operations across thirteen states, encompassing over 7 million aces of public and private rangelands.
Ritchie’s contributions to the project focus on (1) developing models to track and assess grazing impacts and soil carbon across the 120 participating ranches, (2) assess the readiness of ranchers to participate in voluntary carbon markets and (3) developing a software platform on which ranchers can determine which climate-smart commodities they might produce and how to join the supply chain of those commodities.