DAVIS, CALIF. – The California Dairy Research Foundation’s climate-smart pilot project, which partners with 20-plus dairy organizations, became one of the 70 projects chosen by the US Department of Agriculture for the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program.

The USDA estimated a funding ceiling of $85 million for the CDRF pilot, which aims to invest in and build markets for climate-smart dairy producers in California.

The five-year project involves financial incentives for dairy farmers to adopt climate-smart manure management practices that will reduce methane emissions and nitrogen surplus. The project also will make use of matching funds from non-federal sources, per the foundation.

"CDRF is extremely pleased to have received this grant on behalf of the entire collaborative team,” said Denise Mullinax, executive director for the independent nonprofit public benefit foundation “The project brings together organizations throughout the value chain to the benefit of our hard-working dairy producers and the environment. We look forward to working with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Milk Advisory Board, Dairy Cares, the universities and others to implement this advanced climate-smart ag project in California's dairy industry.”

Along with CDFA, CMAB and Dairy Cares, other major partners involved with the project are: California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, California Dairy Campaign, California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, Milk Producers Council, National Milk Producers Federation, Sustainable Conservation, Western United Dairies, California Farm Bureau Federation, University of California-Davis, University of California-Riverside, University of California Cooperative Extension, Truterra, Challenge Dairy Products, Nestlé and California Dairies, Inc.

"This funding represents the next critical installment and chapter in California's world-leading dairy methane reduction efforts," said Michael Boccadoro, executive director for Dairy Cares. "On-farm projects will be designed to not only reduce methane but will significantly improve water quality outcomes, ensuring broad benefits for our rural farm communities.

The USDA is backing projects in the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program with up to $2.8 billion. The program is part of the USDA’s broader strategy to make agriculture and forestry leaders in the climate change movement.

"Dairy families in California continue to step up to ensure the agriculture sector contributes to climate change mitigation and adaptation," said CDFA secretary Karen Ross. "The partnership between the state and dairy families has resulted in significant methane emission reductions, making California a national and international leader in supporting on-farm livestock methane reductions using climate-smart agricultural management approaches and other environmental benefits, including improved water quality from dairy farms."

The full list of 70 projects selected for the initial round of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities can be found online at the USDA’s website.

Funding for the pilot projects will come from the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation in two pools, eventually bringing the total funding to an estimated $3 billion. The USDA shared that among the 70 projects already selected, proposals sought funds ranging from $5-$100 million. Projects for the second funding pool will be announced later in the year.