The USDA grant is the largest federal funding award in Rodale Institute’s history. The multimillion-dollar investment from the cabinet-level department signifies the importance of the Institute’s work in America’s agricultural communities.

The United States Department of Agriculture recently awarded Rodale Institute a $25 million grant as part of the department’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative. This multimillion-dollar federal investment is the largest governmental grant award in the Institute’s 75-year history.

“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 when speaking about the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative.

Secretary 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, chief operating officer at Rodale Institute. “This multi-disciplinary project brings together organic and conventional farmers, non-profit agricultural organizations, and public, private, and historically Black colleges and universities to measure and promote climate smart commodities. We expect that this project will increase acreage and number of farmers using cover crops and other conservation practices that will not only benefit the climate but also improve water quality, biodiversity, and the well-being of the greater farming community within this region.”

Rodale Institute will partner with several organizations and academic institutions on this 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. Additional information about the program can be found on USDA’s website.

ABOUT RODALE INSTITUTE: Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to growing the regenerative organic agriculture movement through rigorous research, farmer training, and education. The Institute’s groundbreaking science and direct farmer-support programs serve as a catalyst for change in farming and food production worldwide. Over its 75-year history, Rodale Institute has proven that organic farming is not only viable but essential to mankind’s survival.