Agroforestry Project Aims for Climate Solutions on Ag Lands
Farmers have opportunity to increase income while enhancing the environment
Eligible farmers in the United States have an opportunity to participate in a new project to increase their incomes and enhance the environment through expanded agroforestry plantings in 30 states (see map below).
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and multiple partners are launching a 5-year project to catalyze significant private investments into the agroforestry industry while increasing farmers’ incomes and delivering environmental benefits such as enhanced carbon sequestration, soil health, biodiversity and water quality.
The Expanding Agroforestry Production & Markets for Producer Profitability and Climate Stabilization project is funded through the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative. In 2022, the USDA announced more than $3.1 billion in funding for 141 projects, including $60 million for this agroforestry project.
What is agroforestry?
Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic and social benefits.
Expanding Agroforestry Practices
Agroforestry currently represents less than 2% of U.S. agriculture. This project aims to create 30,000 acres of new agroforestry plantings over the next five years, thereby creating a nationwide model to eventually spur the adoption of agroforestry practices on tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmlands. Such practices include alley cropping, windbreaks and silvopasture. The project partners intend to accomplish this goal by:
- Offering regionalized technical assistance and outreach to farmers;
- Addressing the needs of underserved farmers;
- Providing $36 million in direct incentive payments to farmers for tree planting;
- Creating a national network of demonstration farms for education and outreach activities
- Working with companies and retailers to expand markets for climate-smart agroforestry commodities, like nuts, fruits, timber, and livestock products produced in silvopasture settings
Climate Benefits of Agroforestry
This project has the potential to drive long-term climate solutions on U.S. agricultural lands by delivering scientific evidence for the carbon benefits of agroforestry.
In the U.S., agriculture is responsible for almost 600 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, or 11% of all the emissions in the U.S., but agroforestry has the potential to be a significant natural climate solution. Agroforestry practices can sequester 2 to 4 tons of CO2 per acre per year in plant biomass and soil and have fewer emissions from fertilizers and tractors compared to most other crops. There are tens of millions of acres of farmland in the U.S. ripe for agroforestry implementation, offering the potential to sequester hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 per year.
A dramatic expansion of agroforestry could help move the whole agricultural sector towards carbon neutrality.
During the course of the project, partners will collect, measure and quantify the carbon benefits of the agroforestry products created. The project will additionally pilot novel methods for quantifying carbon sequestration in agroforestry systems. The data and the carbon rights will be owned by the landowners, and those who purchase the products can communicate the carbon benefits to consumers.
Collaborating for Success
This project brings together leading businesses, academic institutions and non-profit organizations working on agroforestry. TNC is the project lead and responsible for grant administration; processing incentive payments to producers; and leading the measuring, monitoring, reporting and verification effort. TNC is working with six regional leads (see map above) to manage the project, including coordinating with national partners to expand financing and develop markets for agroforestry commodities.
Project partners include, but are not limited to:
|Appalachian Sustainable Development
|Handsome Brook Farms
|Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative
|Association of Temperate Agroforestry
|New York Tree Crops Alliance
|Canopy Farm Management
|The Nature Conservancy
|University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
|Practical Farmers of Iowa
|University of Missouri—The Center for Agroforestry
Walnut Level Capital
|University of Vermont
Expanding Agroforestry Production and MarketsDOWNLOAD
Incentive Payment Program ProcessDOWNLOAD
Frequently Asked QuestionsDOWNLOAD
The Nature Conservancy, along with many project partners, have launched the Expanding Agroforestry Project, an effort funded by a Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities award through the United States Department of Agriculture.
Join our e-mail list to stay current on project updates, upcoming application deadlines and outreach events and to connect with your Regional Lead organization.
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